A mother warns of the dangers of mosquitoes after her seven-year-old daughter has had terrifying attacks and hallucinations due to an invisible bite.
Firstling grader Lauren Zehner spent six days in the hospital after being bitten and unable to recognize her own parents for a short time.
She was diagnosed with a rare condition called La Crosse encephalitis and received the treatment needed to recover.
The viral disease, which is spread by the eastern mosquito in the mosquito den, can easily be diagnosed incorrectly and can cause paralysis in extreme cases.
Lauren Zehner, seven, was hospitalized for a week, Lauren, pictured (left) with her parents and brother, had no sign of a bite but had certainly contracted a mosquito-borne illness
Little Lauren was taken by ambulance to Nationwide Children's & # 39; s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where scans showed her brain to swell
Holly Zehner, 33, a welfare lawyer, was worried about her daughter on August 16 when her fever peaked at 105 degrees.
ER doctors initially diagnosed Lauren with a typical UTI, but when she got home, the typically gentle child became angry and disoriented.
While Holly was given a recipe for her recipe, her husband Jonathan Zehner, 39, was frightened by the condition of their daughter.
Holly said: & # 39; When I drove up the driveway, my husband came running outside. He said that something was really wrong with Lauren.
& # 39; When I went in, she did not respond to me. She was confused. She didn't know who I was.
& # 39; She started getting angry. She asked for water and when I brought it to her, she threw the glass away.
& # 39; We called an ambulance and she was returned to the same ward where we had been earlier that day.
Holly Zehner, 33, a welfare lawyer, was worried about her daughter on August 16 when her fever peaked at 105 degrees
While Holly got a nipple to get a prescription, Jonathan Zehner, 39, was frightened by the condition of their daughter
& # 39; They couldn't believe she was the same child. She was so combative that she had to calm her down to make her blood work, something she had done so easily just a few hours earlier.
& # 39; She is usually a darling, but she was completely upset. & # 39;
Little Lauren was taken by ambulance to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where scans showed her brain to swell.
The first grader was immediately admitted to the pediatric ICU department where it was tested for meningitis and treated with antibiotics and antiviral agents.
Lauren was transferred to the Infectious Disease Unit after two days, where she began to experience frightening attacks.
Holly said: & Her eyes returned and her blood pressure rose.
& # 39; Lauren & # 39; s neurologist came in later that evening and said they saw seizures in many recent cases of la crosse encephalitis.
& # 39; Many people have never heard of it, but it is a mosquito-borne virus.
& # 39; To be honest, we didn't know she was bitten. The incubation period for this virus is up to two weeks, so it may have happened at any time.
& # 39; With some children it can act as a simple flu, but with others like Lauren it can be very serious and life threatening. & # 39;
Lauren suffered two more attacks in the course of two days and was prescribed anti-epileptic medication when her body approached the infection.
Holly and Jonathan, a fieldwork planner, were worried when Lauren's neurologists prepared them for the possibility that their daughter would have cognitive setbacks after the trial.
Holly said: & # 39; Lauren & # 39; s neuropsychologist told us that the disease might leave her with developmental delay.
& # 39; She told us that children who go through illnesses like this are typically one year behind cognitive.
Lauren was transferred to the Infectious Disease Unit after two days, where she began to experience frightening attacks
& # 39; I was just so grateful that she lived that I didn't even care. I knew it would be okay. & # 39;
Lauren was released from the hospital on August 22, six days after she was first admitted.
Holly said: & # 39; I was so scared to bring her home. I don't think I slept for weeks.
& # 39; We bought a baby monitor because I was afraid that she would have an attack in the middle of the night.
& # 39; The most important thing was that when she got home she had many anger problems. We discovered that this was a side effect of her anti-epileptic medication. & # 39;
Since Lauren's disease, Holly has been an advocate of raising awareness about the La Crosse virus and its impact on American communities.
According to the Centers of Disease Control, an average of 70 cases of LAC encephalitis are reported every year in the United States, but according to Holly this figure is much higher.
It is Holly & # 39; s hope that Ohio & # 39; s health department will take the virus as seriously as the West Nile virus, another life-threatening mosquito-borne disease.
Lauren suffered two more attacks in the course of two days and was prescribed anti-epileptic medication when her body approached the infection. It looks like she is recovering in the hospital and playing a game with her father
Lauren was released from the hospital on August 22, six days after she was first admitted – and now her family shares the story as a warning to others
Holly, who is also the mother of Colton, nine, and stepmother of Ayden, 17, said: I have tried to emphasize the need for testing at La Crosse at the Ohio Department of Health.
& # 39; We need the necessary equipment to protect children.
& # 39; In Ohio, they test West Nile mosquitoes and send local warnings if found in an area.
& # 39; The same practice is not performed for La Crosse.
& # 39; I am interested in essential oils so that my children & # 39; always be protected against insect killers in the evening.
& # 39; However, this specific mosquito is dangerous because they bite during the day.
& # 39; We have this perception that mosquitoes only bite in the dark.
& # 39; The eastern tree mosquitoes breed in trees and stagnant pools of water, as in old tires.
& # 39; They have very specific breeding habits and reside in the same area, called hotspots.
& # 39; I have been in contact with other mothers in my immediate area whose children have been affected.
& # 39; Lauren & # 39; s neurologist told us that he had cared for eight children on his floor with the virus.
& # 39; It is something that our health department must take seriously.
& # 39; A single mosquito bite can have a devastating impact on children.
& # 39; I feel Lauren is 99.9 percent back the way she was, but we've been very lucky. & # 39;
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