News & Politics

Six-Year-Old N. Carolina Boy Nearly Dies from Mosquito Bite

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

Many evenings, I pour myself a beer, grab the stack of books I’m currently reading, and head for my favorite deck chair on our back porch for a couple of hours of uninterrupted reading. Well, mostly uninterrupted. I do have to frequently swat away mosquitos. However, after hearing a North Carolina mom’s warning about the debilitating physical effects her son suffered from a mosquito bite, I’m going to add applying bug spray to my evening reading ritual.

After her son, 6-year old Noah began complaining about a headache that refused to go away, LoriAnne Surrett said that her mother-in-law called 911. Good thing the mother-in-law didn’t ignore the headache because it turns out that Noah had contracted La Crosse encephalitis from a mosquito bite.

If, like me, you’re unfamiliar with La Crosse encephalitis, the CDC provides a helpful summation:

Many people infected with LACV have no apparent symptoms. Among people who become ill, initial symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Some of those who become ill develop severe neuroinvasive disease (disease that affects the nervous system). Severe LACV disease often involves encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and can include seizures, coma, and paralysis. Severe disease occurs most often in children under the age of 16. In rare cases, long-term disability or death can result from La Crosse encephalitis. There is no specific treatment for LACV infection– care is based on symptoms.

La Crosse encephalitis sounds like scary stuff for an adult. Considering that Noah Surrett falls well below the CDC’s warning that “children under the age of 16” have a much greater chance of suffering from a severe case of the disease, LoriAnne’s description in a Facebook post of what happened to her son makes frightening sense:

Noah’s lips were blue, eyes fixed looking up and was completely limp he had a seizure. I panicked and everyone else did they carried him to the ambulance and checked his temperature it was 102.3 they thought it may have been a febryl seizure. They started iv fluids and got him stable we left for mission, in the way there he had another seizure and almost a 3rd when they gave him a medicine to knock the seizure away. We got to the hospital and they immediately started bloodwork, and did a ct scan and a spinal tap, urine test and chest x ray, Everything looked okay so far, then the spinal tap results come back… he has lacrosse encephlaitis which is a virus that is cause from a mosquito bite and it puts fluid around the brain which is where the head ache came from. They immediately admitted him to the 3rd floor pediatric icu where they done more test to make sure it wasn’t something else along with it.


Here it is Wednesday morning and my baby is the same hes has had antibiotics, seizure medication, tylenol, ibuprofen, and morphine. He sleeps 99% of the time and is only responsive a few times a day mainly when the pain meds are wearing off and hes uncomfortable. They said that once he turns a corner and his body starts fighting it that he will progress rather fast it’s just getting to that point.

She concludes her post with a plea for prayers as well as stating that she wants to spread the word about this danger. As she put it, “the drs have told me it’s very common in this area but this is the first I have ever heard of it so that’s why I wanted to make this post public. After having 5 kids I’m just now finding out about it and I didn’t want to find out this way.”

Thankfully, Noah has recovered, although he still suffers from nightmares. Hopefully, many will hear or read about Noah Surrett’s illness and then become more proactive about using bug spray when outside. I know I will be.