HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly two years after becoming infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a Hastings man continues to recover from the virus.

Jeff Wescott was diagnosed with EEE in 2020 and wants others to know how serious the virus, which is spread by mosquitos, can be.      

He was in a coma for three days and was in the hospital for more than a month and had to relearn how to walk and talk. Jeff Wescott is only able to whisper because of the virus and continues to work on his walking and strength in physical therapy.

“It’s been tough. Little steps at a time,” he said.

His wife, Tina Wescott, said the journey to recover hasn’t been easy but they are counting their blessings.

“When he opened his eyes I saw Jesus and I knew he was going to be OK,” Tina Wescott said. “He’s a walking miracle because the odds weren’t good.”

State health officials say about 30% of people who become sick from EEE do not survive. In 2019, six out of the 10 people diagnosed with the virus in Michigan died.

“It’s scary,” Tina Wescott said. “Because they have vaccines for horses for this Eastern Equine Encephalitis but they don’t for humans.”

The focus now on recovery is on improving his ability to get around.

“The physical therapist is focusing on trying to retrain his brain to walk without the shuffling gait. To walk normal, take big steps,” Tina Wescott said.

The Wescotts want the community to be reminded of the risk and take precautions as people spend more time outdoors.

“Make sure you’re wearing DEET, a mosquito spray with DEET or long-sleeves and pants just to try and protect yourself,” Tina Wescott said.

The type of mosquito that transmits the virus is most active at night. Removing standing water can also help reduce the population of the insect.