A Massachusetts woman passed away this weekend after contracting eastern equine encephalitis, a rare mosquito-borne disease that can target the central nervous system. After her death, the woman’s daughter shared a touching tribute to the woman who taught her how to live life to the fullest.
Laurie Sylvia started noticing symptoms just six days before her death at the age of 59. According to WCVB-TV, the cause of Sylvia’s death was, in fact, EEE, though the illness is incredibly rare in the United States.
The virus, transmitted through mosquitos, causes brain infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC noted that approximately a third of all EEE patients die from the disease, and those who survive often continue to experience lasting neurological issues.
If the disease is caught before reaching the central nervous system, those infected can recover. But in Sylvia’s case, the damage to her nervous system was too extensive for doctors to remedy.
“Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend,” she wrote. “She brought light and joy to everyone she came across.”
Sylvia was married to her husband, Robert Sylvia, Jr., for 40 years, according to People. He wasn’t sure where his wife, who worked as a realtor in several different counties, might have come into contact with an insect carrying the disease.
She left behind both children and grandchildren, as well as many devoted friends.
“She was the best Mimi anyone could ask for,” her daughter wrote. “I am grateful for the memories my children will carry.”
“I just don’t understand how such a beautiful person could be taken from me so soon. I wasn’t done,” Jen Sylvia continued. “Each day going forward I will see her smile in my mind, live and love with everything I have.”
In the post, the daughter wrestled with the grief but held tight to who her mother was, taking comfort in how she had lived joyfully for others.
Sylvia is the fourth person in Massachusetts to contract EEE this year, according to a news release from the state Department of Public Health.
The release warned others to avoid coming into contact with potential carriers by paying attention to their surroundings, staying indoors during peak mosquito hours or by wearing long sleeves and pants.
Although the world is inherently full of dangers, it is also a place for fun, adventure and love to thrive.
There is risk involved in every choice, every adventure and every relationship. But living in fear won’t protect us from dangerous things — it will simply prevent us from fully experiencing the good.
Jen Sylvia wrote that one of her mother’s greatest lessons was to live life passionately.
“She knew how to have fun,” Sylvia said, “and taught me how important it was to love with all you’ve got and live life to the fullest.”
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