Brandon man is first victim of EEE virus
Staff Report | September 05,2012
The first principal of Otter Valley High School in Brandon, Richard Hollis Breen, is the state's first victim of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Breen was the former head of the state headmasters association, now the Vermont Principals' Association, his son Peter Breen said today.
The 87-year-old was bit by a mosquito five days prior to his death, according to the death certificate released by the Department of Health today.
Peter Breen, the co-founder of Naylor and Breen Builders in Brandon, said his father was near living on his emu farm with him and his wife when he got infected with the rare but deadly virus, which is carried by mammals and was first detected in songbirds, he said.
Breen said in late summer 2011, 19 of his emus on his Neshobe Farm located on Richmond Road were killed from EEE.
Breen said the local mosquito district ground sprayed the farm after the emus tested positive for EEE and once again this year.
All of his 100 emus have been vaccinated since.
"No, I have no idea where he was bit. We haven't seen hardly any mosquitos this year. Truth of the matter is, I'm sure it was in this area. He plays golf every day. It could have been there and there's a swamp closer to here," Peter Breen said from his farm today.
"It's kind of a shame they don't have a vaccination for people. It's been such a rare disease, I'm sure the pharmceutical companies didn't find it profitable. I'm sure that if they took the initiative to develop one now it would be popular with the two cases here in Vermont now."
He said his father didn't have any other ailments and was active, outdoors often.
"He was a great dad, but more than that he was one of my best friends too. He had been here (on his farm) for the last six years since mom had died. I got to spend every day with him. I was lucky to have him," Breen said.
On Thursday from 8 to 11 p.m., the state will be doing aerial spraying in two locations to kill the area's mosquito population.
A map of the spray area is located at healthvermont.gov.
The department declared an immenent health risk for the Brandon area Saturday.
Another man from Sudbury is infected with EEE and hospitalized.
For the complete story, see Thursday's Rutland Herald.