FREETOWN – The latest person to die of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Massachusetts is remembered as a beloved husband, father and grandfather.
James Longworth, 78, first became ill over the weekend, his wife, Diane Balestracci, told WCVB. He was in a coma by Monday and died Thursday.
Balestracci, who was married to Longworth for 27 years, described her late husband as a "wonderful man."
"He didn't deserve this," she said .
She believes her husband was beaten by an infected mosquito in their East Freetown backyard, where Longworth enjoyed doing yardwork.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced earlier Friday that laboratory testing confirmed a Bristol County man died of EEE in The state's 1
The family has not yet scheduled a date for a celebration of Longworth's life.
There are 35 communities now at critical risk, 40 at high risk and 128 at moderate risk
State health officials said this year was the worst outbreak of EEE in Massachusetts since the 1950s.
In addition to the 10 human cases of EEE this season in Massachusetts, there are also eight confirmed cas es of EEE this year in animals – seven horses and a goat. Laurie Sylvia, 59, of Fairhaven died of EEE on Aug. 25, her family said. Another SouthCoast resident, a Rochester man in his 60s, was also stricken with the virus.
One patient also died of EEE in Connecticut earlier this week, according to the state Department of Public Health. This is Connecticut's first death from EEE since 2013.
Rhode Island also had an EEE death.
As previously announced, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is conducting aerial spraying for mosquitoes Friday and through the weekend in parts of Bristol. and Plymouth counties.