FAIRHAVEN (CBS) – Thirteen years ago, Derek Ashworth was a medical miracle, surviving after being infected with the deadly virus eastern equine encephalitis.
“Somebody was looking out for me and gave me a second chance. Not a day goes by I don’t think about that and count my blessings,” Ashworth said.
He’s well aware Triple E is in the news again. The state has begun spraying southeastern Massachusetts communities for the first time in eight years. These communities have a high number of mosquitos in which the virus has been detected, raising concerns about the risk for another human case.
“To see the Department of Public Health being proactive is a huge plus. It gives relief to me and my family, rather than watch somebody get sick and then do something,” Ashworth said. He remembers how sick he was – with seizures, high fever and in a coma for six days.
Communities are now closing parks from dusk until dawn, something Ashworth said no one was thinking about 13 years ago.
He remembers he was bitten after a football practice. “I couldn’t defend myself. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t do anything; it was scary.”
Now, on his 36th birthday, the father of twin boys said he’s fortunate he’s here to celebrate another one.
“Not a day goes by I don’t try to pay it forward. Maybe I’m here for a reason.”