Cockaponset State Forest, just outside of Chester, Connecticutt. Photos: George Etheredge and Cody O’Loughlin

A Deadly Mosquito-Borne Illness Is Brewing in the Northeast

EEE kills almost half of its victims, and cases are on the rise

Oscar Schwartz
Published in
19 min readJun 10, 2020


In springtime, when the swamps behind the Mosman’s family home filled with fresh water, Keith, the eldest son, and Scott, his younger brother, would tramp barefoot through vernal pools in search of turtles, snakes, and frogs, returning hours later dotted with mosquito bites from the scourge that bred among the red maple tree roots. It was the 1970s, and Raynham, Massachusetts, where the Mosmans lived, was still a rural town. As the boys grew older, paddocks gave way to strip malls, apple orchards to housing developments. One year, their father filled the swamp in the backyard to build a swimming pool.

By the time Keith and Scott started their own families, the area was more or less a satellite suburb of Boston. But while the landscape of their childhood summers disappeared, the mosquitoes didn’t. They would still descend in June and not let up biting until the first frost in mid-fall. Keith and Scott both worked outside, so mosquitoes were just a fact of life during the intense, humid summers — a minor nuisance to be endured. Until last year.

On the first Friday of September 2019, Keith received an urgent call from Scott’s girlfriend. His brother had, without warning, collapsed on the…