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Scotland County Girl Still Recovering From Mosquito Bite

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LAURINBURG, N.C. — There are only about five cases of

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

each year in the United States. In two years, there have been two cases in North Carolina. It is a rare illness, but the affected families warn that it can happen to anyone.

Linzi McEwen, 9, of Scotland County, is still recovering from a mosquito bite a year and a half ago.

"She can't learn at the same pace as her classmates whereas, before, academics were never a problem," said Kristi Rogers, Linzi's mother.

Linzi had Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease. A third of those who get it die. Another third live with minor to severe neurological damage.

"Thirty percent make a full recovery, but it takes years for them to get to that point," Rogers said.

Linzi was the only case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the state in 2003. Thirteen-month-old Gracie Blake, of Hertford County, is in Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. Doctors believe she was probably bit by an infected mosquito in late November.

Linzi and her family often visit and keep in touch with Gracie's parents. Gracie's symptoms began the same as Linzi's.

"I came and got some Motrin and went to give it to her. When I went to pull her up, she started having a seizure," Rogers said. "It was a week and a day later that we found out what it was."

The disease is known to kill horses.

"There is a vaccine for horses, but there is currently no vaccine for humans," Rogers said.

Until a vaccine is made available, repellents and other methods of mosquito control are simply a way of life at Rogers' home.

Doctors are not sure about Blake's chances of full or partial recovery. She has a breathing and feeding tube. She may be able to go home in early March.


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