RALEIGH, N.C. -- Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan has entered the next step in her recovery from brain inflammation caused by a virus spread by ticks from animals to humans.

Read: Virus Spread By Ticks Cause Of Former Senator Kay Hagan's Illness

Hagan's family says she was discharged earlier this month from an Atlanta rehabilitation hospital she first entered in January. A family email sent to well-wishers says she's now receiving therapy at an outpatient facility nearby.

Read: Former Senator Kay Hagan Recovers from Encephalitis at Atlanta Hospital

The email says her recovery is going slowly but there's improvement each week. The family says she is using a walker and her speech is limited but that she understands what's being said to her. Several more weeks of therapy is expected.

Read: Kay Hagan, Former NC Senator, Rushed To Hospital

Hagan is a Greensboro Democrat elected to the Senate in 2008 but lost her seat in 2014. She was initially hospitalized in Washington last December.

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