LAURINBURG, N.C. — Last summer, an 8-year-old Scotland County girl contracted Eastern equine encephalitis. It was the state's first human case of the mosquito illness which causes neurological problems and is often fatal.
Linzi McEwen is more than a statistic. Many are calling her from recovery from the disease a miracle.
For many kids, summer means a break from the books, Linzi is trying to catch up on what she has missed. Last year, she nearly died from Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE.
It started with a fever, then seizures. Her parents rushed her to Scotland Memorial Hospital, where she stopped breathing.
"We had no idea what was going on," said Kristi Rogers, Linzi's mom.
Linzi went to University of North Carolina Hospitals where she was diagnosed with EEE. She got it from a mosquito bite.
"I kept wondering 'How can such a little tiny insect cause such huge problems?'" Rogers said.
"You don't think it can happen here in Laurinburg, North Carolina, or to you. You think it's going to happen to someone else," father Terry Rogers said.
Linzi was in the hospital from August until October. She had to learn how to walk and write again. She was not able to speak until December.
"It was my birthday and her first words were 'Happy Birthday mom, I love you.' The tears started flowing and that was the best birthday present a mother could have," Kristi Rogers said.
Kristi Rogers is not so happy at the mention of mosquitoes.
"I get a rage inside of me when I see the first mosquito," she said.
Linzi and her family are not taking chances this summer. No one goes outside without bug spray and everyone is inside before 6 p.m. The house is also surrounded by citronella candles and mosquito-repelling plants.
Linzi works with nurse assistant Joan Locklear to catch up on school work. She hopes to start fourth grade in the fall, as scheduled.
"To she what she's been through, it's given me so much hope on life to see what she's conquered and overcome," Locklear said.
With all the strength and determination she has shown so far, the Rogers call their daughter a miracle.
Linzi's parents have had health officials out to their house to make it less mosquito friendly. They have also made sure nearby ponds aren't mosquito hotspots.
EEE is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes and causes severe brain inflammation. Thirty-five percent of people who get it die, 35 percent have mild to serious neurological problems and 30 percent of people make a full recovery.
Children under age 15 and people over age 30 are most likely to become severely ill. Horses also get EEE and it is almost always fatal.