Strangers Raised $190,000 for Girl Hospitalized With EEE—Now She Has Gone Home

A 5-year-old Massachusetts girl diagnosed with a rare mosquito-borne virus has returned home from the hospital, weeks after donors raised thousands of dollars for her medical expenses.

Sophia Garabedian was hospitalized early last month with Eastern equine encephalitis, which can cause deadly brain swelling. Her condition sparked the concern of thousands online, and a verified GoFundMe effort has topped $190,000.

“There are no words that can adequately describe the depth of our family’s gratitude to those who have donated to support Sophia or shared their prayers and heartfelt thoughts through cards and messages,” her family said in a statement.

“Every positive thought has helped us to get to this day and will get us through as we continue to work on her recovery.”

Sophia was released after she reached a “major milestone,” her family said, but her recovery is ongoing.

Sophia’s diagnosis came during a severe EEE outbreak, with at least 32 confirmed cases in six states.

Mosquito on skin. (Pixabay)

Five to 10 human cases are typically reported in the United States each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. About 30 percent of cases result in death.

A resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, died of EEE this week, according to officials from the Calhoun County Public Health Department, bringing the number of EEE deaths in the United States this year to 11.

People develop symptoms about 4 to 10 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito, the CDC says. Signs include sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. More severe symptoms include disorientation, seizures, and coma.

A barricade stops the public getting too close to the horses after the outbreak of equine influenza in Melbourne
A barricade stops the public from getting too close to the horses after the outbreak of equine influenza in Melbourne, Australia, in 2007. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

When summer is in full swing, mosquitoes are buzzing around at peak populations. Officials warn people to avoid being bitten by covering skin with clothing or using a mosquito repellant, and using screens to cover doors and windows. To prevent them from breeding drain standing water around the home.

By Dakin Andone, CNN

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