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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Mosquito-Borne Brain Infection More Severe Than Thought


"I don't keep my kids indoors when there is a report of La Crosse in the community," he says. "But when it's in the neighborhood, I make sure the kids are covered and wear insect repellant."

For those most severely affected, however, the relative mildness of La Crosse encephalitis is small consolation.

Debbie Arrington's son Josh, now 13, also came down with the disease when he was 7, just like Ronnie. The similarities didn't stop there. "It was very, very scary," Arrington tells WebMD. "The day [Josh] went into a seizure he was crying, 'My head hurts so bad, please make it go away.' I was rubbing his head and then he started just staring at the wall -- it was a seizure, so we rushed him to the hospital. But when we got him home, that is when the struggle began. We did not get the same child back. He always forgot things, his schoolwork was very poor. A few months later he started having seizures again, and this continued every three months until last year.

"Now we know that God has blessed us," she says, "and we have never had any more trouble. Now his memory is great, and he is 100% there. But it took us four years of hard work and positive reinforcement. It was a struggle to keep him going."

Both McJunkin and Schreiber say it's very important to keep mosquitoes from breeding around one's home. The treehole mosquito loves to lay its eggs in old tires, but also likes small cups and flower pots. These should be removed. During mosquito season, insect repellent should be used -- but make sure that the type and amount of repellent is appropriate for children.

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