COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A 7-year-old Mount Vernon child has been diagnosed with La Crosse virus, a rare and dangerous illness that is transmitted through the bite from an infected mosquito, according to the Knox County Health Department.
The boy, Alex, is now recovering at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is expected to go home Saturday.
His mom, Dani Woosley, said she first noticed signs her son was not feeling well in early August.
She said he had a low-grade fever and complained he was tired, which is unlike him, but then things got worse.
“He was fine, he was acting like a normal kid would act and then when we went home that night, he ended up doing weird things, talking off the top of his head, putting himself in a closet, cussing us out, all kinds of stuff and then started vomiting and that’s when the seizures came and we had to call 911,” said Woosley.
She added that as time went on, her son began acting out by yelling and cussing at her.
“[It] is crazy,” said Woosley. “It’s not just a virus,” she thought. “There’s something more to it.”
Nationwide Children’s Hospital did a spinal tap and found the La Crosse virus in his spinal fluid.
The disease is transmitted through mosquito bites and is rare.
In fact, the Ohio Department of Health has confirmed three other cases of the virus in Ohio this year, two in Franklin County.
All three were in children. They were hospitalized but none died.
As for Alex, his mom says his road to recovery is not over.
“He did have another seizure after we got here in the middle of the night and he will have to continue the medicine and do some rehab when we leave here,” said Woosley. “We’re making good progress. He’s talking, but it’s kind of slow, picking up on certain things that he used to not take time with, but we’ll get there.”
The mosquito which transmits the virus is the eastern tree-hole mosquito, an aggressive daytime- biting mosquito commonly found in wooded areas. This particular mosquito is known for laying its eggs in the holes of trees where water collects as well as other water collection sites, according to a press release from the health department.
Anyone who lives near or spends time in wooded areas is at increased risk for La Crosse virus, officials said.
Many people infected with La Crosse virus have no apparent symptoms.
For those who do, symptoms typically begin five to 15 days after a mosquito bite and include non-specific symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and lethargy, according to the health department.
La Crosse virus can only be diagnosed by a healthcare provider through a blood or cerebrospinal fluid sample collected for laboratory testing, according to the health department.
Severe illness most often occurs among children younger than 16 years old and is characterized by seizures, coma, paralysis, and a variety of neurological complications after recovery.
Infection from the La Crosse virus can lead to encephalitis, officials said.
Death from infection with La Crosse virus is rare and occurs in less than one percent of cases, officials said.
The most effective way to prevent infection from the La Crosse virus is to prevent mosquito bites, according to the health department.
Mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
Whenever residents are in areas prone to mosquitoes such as high grass, damp areas or wooded areas, they are encouraged to wear insect repellent, treating their skin, clothing, and gear, officials said.