As a 5-year-old girl deals with a EEE infection, a GoFundMe page has been raising money to help her family pay her medical bills.
Sophia Garabedian was diagnosed last week with eastern equine encephalitis. The GoFundMe identified her after officials said the mosquito-borne illness left a girl from Sudbury in critical condition.
Debbie Moynihan set up the fundraiser to help support Kirstin and David Garabedian as their daughter remained in intensive care. As of Tuesday night, it had raised more than $127,000 of its $200,000 goal.
"Let's remove the financial worry from these amazing parents and let them continue to do what they are doing — being by Sophia's bedside 24X7 helping her to heal and recover," Moynihan wrote.
Garabedian was taken to Boston Children's Hospital on Sept. 3 with severe flu-like symptoms, according to Moynihan.
"She had a very high fever and brain swelling and quickly became unresponsive," Moynihan wrote.
She tested positive for EEE Friday, according to the crowdfunding page.
On Tuesday, Kirstin Garabedian wrote that her daughter was "beginning to show some signs of improvement."
"The doctors say the swelling in her brain is starting to subside," she wrote. "She's out of the acute phase and entering the recovery phase."
Later, Moynihan gave another update on the child's condition.
"Sophia is officially in fair condition, but she is still unable to talk or walk and has limited cognitive function," she explained. "The family cannot thank everyone enough for the generous donations."
Seven people, including Garabedian, have been diagnosed with EEE this year in Massachusetts. State health officials confirmed Tuesday that one person has died; in August, the family of Laura Sylvia reported she had passed away from the illness. A death in Rhode Island was also confirmed Monday.
In total, 36 communities in Massachusetts face critical risk of EEE, with 42 more at high risk. State and local officials have ordered spraying to mitigate the outbreak, the first to affect humans in the state in seven years.
The mosquito-borne virus affects the nervous system and kills about three in 10 people who contract it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"EEE is a very dangerous virus. It makes West Nile Virus look like a pussy cat," Sam Telford, infectious disease professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, told NBC10 Boston.
Telford added that the chances of contracting the virus or dying from it are small, but he credited public health awareness campaigns for limiting the number of cases.