5-year-old with rare mosquito-borne virus goes home from the hospital after donors raised $190K

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

Sophia Garabedian was hospitalized in early September with Eastern equine encephalitis, which can cause deadly brain swelling. Her condition sparked the concern of thousands online, and a verified GoFundMe effort 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 was ongoing.

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

Five to 10 human cases are typically reported in the U.S. each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. About 30% 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 U.S. this year to 11.

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