Leah's Story

What to know

La Crosse virus can cause a serious disease most often in children. Hear one family's experience when their daughter developed La Crosse encephalitis and ways you can protect your family from La Crosse virus.

Leah's Story: How La Crosse Encephalitis Virus Affected One Family

Hear One Family's Story

When Leah was just 4 years old, she was bitten by a mosquito carrying La Crosse virus. Two days after complaining of a headache that would not go away, Leah’s family took her to the emergency room. Leah died in her parents’ arms three days later from La Crosse encephalitis.


Although rare, La Crosse encephalitis most often affects children under 16 years of age. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most cases occur in the upper Midwestern, mid-Atlantic, and southeastern states. You can protect your family from La Crosse encephalitis by:

  • Removing standing water around your home where mosquitoes lay their eggs
  • Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent
  • Wearing loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants

Find more prevention tips.


Tell your healthcare provider immediately if your child or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms below, especially in the summer or fall.

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Raising awareness about La Crosse virus‎

La Crosse virus can cause severe disease. Unfortunately, for some children the disease can be deadly. Take action to prevent La Crosse virus infections in your family.