ROCHESTER (CBS) — Robert Hiller says his life will never be the same again because of a single mosquito bite. “I can’t walk. I have to have people with me 24 hours a day. It’s a nightmare,” the 66-year-old Rochester man said.
Last summer, he contracted EEE. He was in a coma 19 days, suffered a stroke, and lost most of his mobility.READ MORE: Newton To Keep School Mask Mandate In Effect After October 1
“I had a massive headache then I went into a coma,” Hiller said.
His wife said this has been a very difficult year. “They didn’t expect him to make it after five days,” Sandi Hiller said.
Dr. Asim Ahmed of Boston Children’s Hospital has been closely studying EEE since 2004. He said the mosquito-borne deadly virus tends to impact people in the state in two-to-three-year clusters.
“So if the pattern bears out, this year is certainly a concern for the Dept. of Public Health because it will be the second potentially of three years of heightened activity,” Ahmed said.READ MORE: 'It Was My Dream': Bill Shields Retires After 41 Years At WBZ
The Department of Public Health said EEE has already been detected in places like Orange, Carver, and Plymouth, which frightens Hiller all the more.
“Put bug spray on and avoid a mosquito bite,” Hiller said. His family said they now pay to have their property sprayed every three weeks because they are afraid someone else may get bitten by a mosquito and possibly get EEE. They wish the state would do more to keep another tragedy like this from happening again.
“Protect your family and protect yourself as much as you can. But the state needs to step up and get the spraying done. We can’t wait until August,” Sandi said.
Hiller is showing signs of progress. Now he can speak, eat and breathe on his own.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine Booster Shots Ready To Go For Those Eligible In Massachusetts
“They all called him the miracle. He’s been able to survive. He can’t do a lot of physical things that he did, which is very difficult for him and for us, but he’s here with us and it’s a blessing,” Sandi said.