A North Carolina mother is warning parents about the danger of mosquito bites after her son contracted a rare disease known as La Crosse Encephalitis. The virus, also known as LACV for short, is contracted through bites from infected mosquitoes and can cause the person who was bitten to develop the severe neuroinvasive disease, affecting the nervous system. LoriAnne Surrett posted on Facebook about her 6-year-old son’s experience after being diagnosed with the virus after being bitten. Noah Surrey was in the intensive care unit in a hospital with severe brain swelling in Asheville, North Carolina, where his mother described him as seeming “like a zombie.”
According to his mother, Noah began to experience a severe headache before going to stay with his grandmother. The next morning, his grandmother called 911, saying the child wasn’t acting right. His lips had turned blue and began to have seizures while the EMT was checking him. When at the hospital, the mother said he slept 99 percent of the time and was only responsive a few times a day when the medicine was wearing off or he was uncomfortable. Noah had been prescribed heavy antibiotics, seizure medication, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and morphine. Doctors told Surrett that Noah would get better once his body started to fight off the virus by itself. A week later, after intensive medication, Noah was able to return home from the hospital.
On average, 70 cases of LACV are reported each year in the United States. The virus (related to the West Nile Virus) is known as an ‘out of the nowhere’ virus, due to it sometimes not showing any symptoms. Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, those who do show symptoms often suffer severe headaches, fever, nausea, tiredness, and vomiting. One can also develop Encephalitis, causing inflammation of the brain, leading to seizures, paralysis, and even possible coma. While everyone is susceptible to the disease, severe cases most often develop in children under the age of 16.
As if the La Crosse virus wasn’t scary enough, the incubation period for LACV can range from 5 to 15 days. Although seizures are a serious side effect, the CDC stated that less than 1 percent of cases are fatal, and most patients can see a full recovery. Specific Treatment for LACV is done on a case by case basis depending on the person and the symptoms they are experiencing. What can you do to prevent the virus? Simple, if you or anyone who know will be outside for the day, the CDC recommends you to always wear insect repellent and if possible, long sleeves, long pants, and socks to avoid any mosquito bites.