2008-08-02 / Editorials & Letters

Health threats from mosquitoes are real

Editor:

Our son knows better than most the ravages one mosquito bite can cause. He was two, walking, talking, reciting nursery rhymes, using the potty, smiling, happy and well adjusted. In July, I was awakened by his frightened five year old brother, with whom he shared a room, saying his brother was sick.

Not just sick we discovered but very sick. He was in a stupor, had vomited on himself and messed the bed. All of this, we later discovered, resulting from a seizure that occurred during the night. So started a week long siege of what appeared to be a very bad flu with a high temperature. When he did not improve during that week despite daily doctor visits, a spinal tap confirmed he was suffering from meningitis or encephalitis. He was hospitalized in isolation and a second spinal tap at the end of two weeks confirmed LaCrosse encephalitis.

With no medicines available to treat the infection, it must run its course and the body fight it on its own, he survived but as a much different person than he was before. He could not talk, walk without dragging one leg, and slept just two hours out of twenty four. He began to have seizures on a regular basis. A quiet child before the disease he now was loud, excitable, and confused.

The seizures began every 30 seconds and manifested themselves in a variety of ways. He suffered depression since the area of the brain controlling emotions was one of the most severely damaged areas. He was alive but life for him (and those who love him) was hard.

That was 38 years ago. Since then, with improved technology, we now know that the right half of his brain was destroyed with the swelling occurring as a result of the infection. For him as an adult the seizures worsened. He was not able to drive and was disabled. Then a miracle occurred. Cleveland Clinic physicians removed two sections of his brain to control the seizures. Since that date, with the help of two anticonvulsants, he is seizure free. He graduated college, has an excellent job, owns his home - many of the things we take for granted he can do.

Mosquito control is necessary. Central Ohio has a mosquito problem. We reside in an area that lends itself to the breeding of potential disease carrying mosquitoes.

Communities have an obligation to protect the health of its citizens. With the mosquito, that means fogging an adulticide repellant to kill the adults, larvaciding and draining breeding sites to kill the eggs before they mature. Children must be protected with repellants by loving parents and caretakers. Adults also need to remain vigilant in protecting themselves. It doesn't happen to someone else, but to any one of us. Johanna and Doug Hartfield Thorn Township

Editor's Note: There are simple steps that we all can take to reduce mosquito breeding sites. We have published an OSU Extension Bulletin on Page 17. Prevention is much more effective than spraying.

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