Michigan girl fighting for life after diagnosis of rare mosquito-borne disease EEE

Three suspected cases of EEE discovered in Michigan

Michigan girl fighting for her life after mosquito-borne disease diagnosis

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A Michigan girl is fighting for her life after being diagnosed with a rare mosquito-borne disease.

State health officials announced this week there are three suspected cases of eastern equine encephalitis -- also known as EEE or "Triple E" -- in two different counties.

The mother of the 14-year-old Kalamazoo County girl who was diagnosed spoke about how her daughter is doing.

"Friday, it got to the point where she didn't want to move," Kerri Dooley said.

After extensive tests, doctors diagnosed Dooley's daughter, Savannah, with the rare and serious disease.

"A person has a 4% change of contracting the EEE, and then of those 4%, only 1% actually have encephalitis from it," Dooley said.

Doctors said one in three people who are diagnosed with EEE don't survive.

"She's a good kid," Dooley said. "She's very smart. She's very helpful. She would do anything to be here."

Dooley said the family came very close to losing Savannah.

"It has been probably the worst time of my life," Dooley said. "I watched my daughter almost check out. Last Thursday, that was her diagnosis."

Savannah is on a ventilator and isn't able to communicate.

"She just kind of lays there for now," Dooley said. "Her brain is trying to heal itself, and she can't do anything until that happens."

The family has taken precautions to prevent mosquito bites, so it was a surprise how quickly the virus attacked.

"It's a horrible feeling, but I don't know what I can tell anyone other than to just watch, just be careful," Dooley said. "Watch where you're bringing them."

Members of the community have reached out to support the family, raising money for her medical expenses and offering words of encouragement on the Savannah Strong Facebook page.

"Her story has been shared over 1,000 times," Dooley said. "I think a lot of that is people wanting to know what's going on."

Dooley is trying to remain hopeful that her daughter will win the fight against EEE.

"She's very artistic," Dooley said. "She loves everybody. She's got a heart of gold. She is just a happy, very happy girl and does not deserve to go through this."

The family is waiting for an additional test from the state to provide further confirmation of the condition.


About the Authors:

Devin Scillian is equally at home on your television, on your bookshelf, and on your stereo. Devin anchors the evening newscasts for Local 4. Additionally, he moderates Flashpoint, Local 4's Sunday morning news program. He is also a best-selling author of children's books, and an award-winning musician and songwriter.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.