The mother of a young girl who contracted a rare disease that caused her to have seizures and hallucinations is warning people about the potential dangers of mosquito bites.
Holly Zehner’s 7-year-old daughter, Lauren, was eventually diagnosed with La Crosse encephalitis last year after she was bitten by the insect, and at one point she was not able to recognize her parents, reported the Mirror.
La Crosse encephalitis is a viral disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those who become ill could develop symptoms that affect the nervous system and in more severe cases develop inflammation of the brain, which then causes seizures, comas, and paralysis. Children under 16 who contract the disease are most prone to develop severe symptoms.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) May 21, 2019
Mother Holly Zehner from Ohio said the problems started when Lauren developed a fever that reached 105 degrees.
Lauren was initially diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, but her symptoms became more severe after she went home.
“As I pulled into the driveway, my husband came running out. He said something was really wrong with Lauren,” Holly told the Mirror.
“When I went inside, she wasn’t responding to me. She was confused. She didn’t know who I was.
“She started to become angry. She was asking for water and when I brought it to her she threw the glass away.”
Zehner said they decided to call an ambulance, and Lauren was transported to the same emergency room she had gone to earlier that day.
“They couldn’t believe she was the same child. She was so combative they had to sedate her just to do her blood work, which she had done so easily just hours before,” Holly told the news outlet. “She’s a sweetheart usually, but she became out of her mind.”
Eventually, Lauren was transferred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to undergo further treatment.
Ohio girl, 7, left hallucinating with seizures and memory loss after contracting rare paralyzing condition from an mosquito bite https://t.co/wN4lYgfqjN
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 21, 2019
There, doctors discovered the girl’s brain was swelling and she underwent tests for meningitis. Two days later she was transferred to the Infectious Disease Unit and began suffering from seizures.
“Her eyes were rolling back and her blood pressure skyrocketed,” Holly said. That was when a neurologist told her and her husband that many recent patients with La Crosse encephalitis were also suffering from seizures.
“To be honest we did not remember her being bitten,” she said. “The incubation period for this virus is up to two weeks so it could have happened at any point. In some children it can present as a simple flu, but in others like Lauren it can be very serious and life-threatening.”
Holly said her daughter was released from the hospital six days after she was admitted and has almost completely recovered, the Mirror reported.
After the family’s experience, Holly is now raising awareness about the La Crosse disease. She said, “A single mosquito bite could have a devastating impact on children.”