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An online fundraising campaign is underway for a 5-year-old Sudbury girl who remained hospitalized Tuesday after contracting the rare, mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus last week.
A GoFundMe page created by close friends of the family of Sophia Garabedian, who is being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital, has surpassed $100,000 — money intended to help offset out-of-pocket medical expenses.
“On Tuesday, September 3rd, Sophia Garabedian was rushed from her home in Sudbury, MA to Boston Children’s Hospital in an ambulance after experiencing severe flu symptoms, headaches, and appeared to be having a seizure,” the campaign says. “She had a very high fever and brain swelling and quickly became unresponsive.”
Tests came back positive for EEE on Sept. 6, confirming Garabedian as one of seven people in Massachusetts to contract the infection amid this year’s outbreak.
“Her parents have been at Children’s Hospital with her this entire time, and it has been truly heartbreaking for all of their family and friends,” organizers of the fundraiser wrote. “She remains in the ICU and while the family has a full medical insurance plan through their employer, the out-of-pocket medical costs will be massive.”
The Commonwealth is currently experiencing its first cases of EEE since 2012. There is no vaccine for the potentially fatal virus, which spreads through infected mosquitos usually found around and in freshwater, hardwood swamps.
Last month, a Fairhaven woman died after being hospitalized with EEE.
According to the GoFundMe campaign, Garabedian began to show signs of improvement Tuesday.
In an update posted to the page, Kirstin Garabedian wrote:
“The doctors say the swelling in her brain is starting to subside. She’s out of the acute phase and entering the recovery phase. Thank you everyone – we are extremely appreciative of everyone’s kindness, thoughtfulness and well wishes.”
The fundraiser, which is promoting #SuperSophia to help spread the word, pledges to give the donations to the family for medical care and rehabilitation expenses.
“These costs include neurologist support as Sophia’s brain heals, physical therapy as she regains use of her body, and in-patient care for an extended period of time. We need your help,” the page says. “Let’s remove the financial worry from these amazing parents and let them continue to do what they are doing – being by Sophia’s bedside 24X7 helping her to heal and recover.”
The state Department of Public Health announced Garabedian’s EEE diagnosis, as well as that of a woman in her 60s from eastern Worcester County, on Friday.
The confirmations prompted officials to elevate risk levels in surrounding communities, and now 36 cities and towns across the state are now at critical risk, 42 at high risk, and 115 at moderate risk for EEE.
In Sudbury, spraying for mosquito control was slated to be carried out this week, according to a statement local police issued Friday.
“Spraying will first target school grounds, parks and fields, and will be completed over the course of next week,” the statement said. “Sudbury streets will be sprayed by Tuesday evening, weather permitting.”
Organizers of the GoFundMe campaign wrote Garabedian was a “happy, loving little girl who loved playing with her friends and doing gymnastics” before she contracted the virus.
“She just graduated from preschool and had her first week of Kindergarten before this terrible tragedy began. She loved playing with her dolls, spending time at the beach, and playing with her dog Rocky,” the page says.
“We want to give her every chance in the world for full recovery. Please help!”
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