Oneida Co. man shares story of his recovery from Eastern Equine EncephalitisSubmitted: 09/19/2019
Stephen Goin
Stephen Goin

Oneida Co. man shares story of his recovery from Eastern Equine Encephalitis
HARSHAW - A deadly mosquito-borne illness claimed the lives of two more people in the Midwest early this week. Only a handful of cases are reported each year and the illness is often a death sentence. 

Eastern Equine Encephalitis or "EEE" has killed at least five people in three states this year, while one girl in Michigan continues to battle the devastating effects of the disease.

A man in Oneida County contracted EEE two years ago and lived to share the story of his rehabilitation.

Alex Schewe, 26, of Harshaw was diagnosed with Easter Equine Encephalitis in October 2017. After experiencing cold like symptoms, Alex was taken to the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff with a 106-degree fever. 

He was then flown to a hospital in Madison and slipped into coma for 12 days, experiencing three seizures and brain swelling that required doctors to drill holes in his head. When he woke up, Alex's wife Heather said his brain was reset to infancy.

"He's had to learn how to walk, talk, breathe, feed himself," said Heather. "Everything a normal baby has to learn to do and in the last two years he's accomplished that."

Alex's long term memory was not impacted but he did have to go through intense therapy that is still not over. 

Doctors told Alex his left side would recover slower than the rest of his body. Alex said he still has trouble with balance and walking. Ultimately, he said he feels lucky to be alive and had the following advice for anyone recovering.

"Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up, "said Alex.

The Schewe's hope that by sharing their story they can show EEE recovery is possible.

Heather said she even reached out to offer advice to the family of 14-year-old Savanah DeHart, the Michigan girl who contracted the disease in August. 

Health workers encourage the use of mosquito repellent well into the fall to avoid contracting the disease. 

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