NC mom shares warning after mosquito bite leaves 6-year-old in I - FOX Carolina 21

NC mom shares warning after mosquito bite leaves 6-year-old in ICU

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Noah and LoriAnne Surrett (Photo provided) Noah and LoriAnne Surrett (Photo provided)
Noah Surrett (Photo provided) Noah Surrett (Photo provided)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

LoriAnne Surrett, who has been at his hospital bedside constantly, heard her 6-year-old son's voice for the first time in five days on Thursday.

"Three hours ago he finally opened his eyes and he talked to me," she said. "That was the sweetest sound I've ever heard."

On Saturday, Surrett said Noah and his brothers were playing like normal kids and having a great time. The boys begged to stay at their grandparents' house even though Noah had a headache.

Surrett gave him some children's pain medicine and said he seemed to perk up. But the next morning, she got a call that is every parent's nightmare. Her in-laws said Noah wasn't himself and something didn't see right.

Then, they said they were calling 911 and told her to get to their house quickly.

Surrett said when she arrived, Noah's lips were blue and he was completely limp. EMS evaluated him and said he had a seizure.

After undergoing blood work, a CT scan, a spinal tap, and a chest X-ray, doctors determined Noah was suffering from La Crosse encephalitis - a rare virus spread through infected mosquitoes.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said La Crosse encephalitis (LACV) is the most common mosquito-borne virus in the state, and it's seen most frequently in the western counties.

Between 2003 and 2012, 187 cases of LACV were confirmed across North Carolina. Many people infected with the virus never develop symptoms, but children under age 16 are most at risk for severe complications including seizures.

Noah was one of those children.

During his stay in the children's ICU at Mission Hospital in Asheville, Surrett said her son was only responsive a few times a day for the better part of a week.

"Noah is a spunky little dude that sickness never brings him down," she said. "So this is breaking all of our hearts."

Surrett got an amazing surprise on Thursday, though, when Noah finally was able to open his eyes and talk to her. She said he talked about snakes and wanting to go home from the hospital.

Surrett said she has always been a firm believer in using bug spray - and she wants to make other parents aware of the dangers of mosquito bites.

"I don't want to see another baby go through this," she said. "Use bug spray on your kids, check for bites. It's not 100 percent preventable obviously, but do what you can to try."

NC DHHS confirmed the best way to reduce your risk of LACV is to wear insect repellent, wear long sleeves, and limit time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.

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