Tree-Mendus Fruit Farmer Fighting Eastern Equine Encephalitis


Sarah Jannings

EAU CLAIRE- Bill Teichman, a third generation farmer and owner of the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farms in Pipestone Township, is the first man in Berrien County to be hospitalized with Eastern equine encephalitis in more than two decades.

“Eastern equine encephalitis is a viral illness that is transmitted to people and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is an alphavirus and is closely related to western equine encephalitis and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses. Illness caused by eastern equine encephalitis is rare and only a few human cases are reported in the United States each year. However, it is the most severe mosquito borne disease in the United States. Approximately one in three people who develop severe illness die and most of those who survive will have permanent neurologic damage. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no treatment for the EEE virus” (MN Department of Health).

Hospitalization and supportive care may also be needed and this was certainly the case for Teichman.  He was admitted to the hospital on August 16th after the symptoms appeared, where he was then diagnosed with this devastating disease.  

After his symptoms worsened, he was transferred to a Neurocritical care in Grand Rapids, and then to a long-term acute care hospital. Generally, early symptoms of the disease occur about four to the days after exposure to the virus and can include headache, high fever, chills, body and joint aches. 

Furthermore, regular Easter equine encephalitis can then develop into severe encephalitis, or brain swelling, which can cause tumors, seizures, and paralysis. Three deaths from the illness have already been reported from the states of Michigan, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Recently, a GoFundMe page was set up to assist Teichman’s family with medical expenses. The effort has a goal of raising $50,000, and around $11,000 had been pledged as of Thursday, one day after the page was set up. 

Since Monday, September 16th, $42,671 has been pledged out of the newt goal of $65,000 ( The community of Southwest Michigan is doing everything they can to support Teichman and his family during this difficult time and we can only hope that other cases like his don’t arise in Berrien County. 

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