Former North Carolina senator Kay Hagan dies at 66 after battling prolonged illness from tick bite

The former banker-turned-politician died in her sleep at her home in Greensboro, North Carolina, of encephalitis or brain inflammation which is caused by a rare virus that spreads from ticks to human beings


                            Former North Carolina senator Kay Hagan dies at 66 after battling prolonged illness from tick bite

Former North Carolina senator Kay Hagan, who had endorsed Obamacare, has died following a prolonged illness caused by a tick bite. She was 66.

The former banker-turned-politician (she was a homemaker in between) died in her sleep at her home in Greensboro, North Carolina, of encephalitis or brain inflammation which is caused by a rare virus that spreads from ticks to human beings, informed Sadie Weiner, Hagan’s former Senate spokesperson.

The Associated Press reported that it was in late 2016 that Hagan contracted the Powassan virus and the subsequent illness made speaking and walking challenging for her.

The Powassan virus is spread by the common deer tick that is found abundantly in the eastern part of the US. Those bitten by infected ticks can be threatened by a fatal infection in which the brain is affected.

It causes a dangerous swelling which is incurable. Not everyone who gets a tick bite develops symptoms like fever, headache, nausea and weakness but some do. In 2009, there were only six such reported cases but in 2018, it went up to 21. 

Kay Hagan was a political achiever

After having worked in the banking industry, Hagan served in the North Carolina state Senate between 1999 and 2009. In 2008, she made it big by defeating the incumbent senator from the state Elizabeth Dole, the wife of 1996 presidential candidate Bob Dole.

The victory made her the first woman to beat an incumbent woman in a senate election. Hagan sought re-election in 2014 but lost closely to Republican Thom Tillis.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) campaigns for Sen. Kay Hagan (L) (D-NC) at a 'Vote Early' rally October 25, 2014, in Charlotte, North Carolina. With ten days remaining before the midterm elections, Hagan remains locked in a tight race with Republican Senate candidate and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"We already miss her humor and spirit as the hub of our family, a role she loved more than anything. Nobody could light up a room and make people feel welcome like Kay," her bereaved family said in a statement.

Former president Barack Obama remembered Hagan as the one who had worked with him pass the Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and called her a "reasoned, pragmatic voice".

"She was, quite simply, a terrific public servant — eager to find common ground, willing to rise above the partisan fray, and always focused on making progress for the people she served," Obama said in a statement, AP reported.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden said he saw Hagan in person last Sunday, October 27, during a visit to Durham, North Carolina. He called her a "champion for North Carolina" and a "fierce defender of all its citizens."

He said Hagan played a crucial role in passing Obamacare and before that, the 2009 Recovery Act which is about an economic stimulus package.

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