Mom of girl diagnosed with EEE speaks


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WLNS) — The mother of a teenage girl sickened by Eastern Equine Encephalitis says her daughter is making progress in her recovery.

Fourteen-year-old Savanah DeHart came down with the disease in August. The Kalamazoo County native is at Mary Free Bed Hospital undergoing rehabilitation.

Officials with Mary Free Bed say DeHart started showing symptoms August 16.

“She started acting a little bit different,” DeHart’s mother, Kerri Dooley said. “She had a severe headache, and kind of lethargic, and just, zombie-like is what I call it.”

Dooley rushed DeHart to the hospital, and, within hours, DeHart was on a ventilator to help her breathe.

“They decided originally she had meningitis,” Dooley said.

But it was not meningitis. A little more than a week later, doctors diagnosed DeHart with EEE.

“All we know is it was a mosquito bite,” Dooley said. “We have no idea…the time frame prior to is 4-10 days before they see anything going on. So she could have been at practice, she could have been at home, she could have been with her dad. We have no idea.”

Dooley spent weeks in the intensive care unit before being moved to Mary Free Bed. Her doctor, Dr. Doug Henry, described her progress.

“She’s still pretty limited. She cannot say any words. She cannot move her arms or legs very well,” he said. “But she is starting to follow some commands and that’s very encouraging.”

“She’s definitely beating the odds of what everyone thought,” Dooley said.

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