The summer break is a time when parents encourage their children to play outside.
Not only is the exercise and the sunlight good for their health, but parents also need a break from their little ones sometimes.
You may think you know all of the risks your children are exposed to outdoors, but one mother from North Carolina was stunned when her son caught a potentially deadly disease from a bug bite.
"I literally thought my kid was gone when I saw him."
LoriAnne Surrett says her six-year-old son, Noah, is "a spunky little dude," and that "sickness never brings him down."
So when Noah complained of a headache as she drove him to visit his grandparents last week, the mother-of-five didn't think much of it.
She gave her son a dose of pain medication, and he seemed to improve.
But Noah woke up dealing with the same headache the next day, and Surrett remembers getting a terrifying call from her in-laws.
They said that Noah was "not acting right," and was unresponsive. "Get over here," her mother-in-law urged, before hanging up to dial 911.
Surrett arrived just in time to see the EMS workers loading her son into an ambulance, and got the first hint about how bad his situation was.
"Noah's lips were blue, eyes fixed looking up and was completely limp he had a seizure," she wrote on Facebook.
"I literally thought my kid was gone when I saw him," she told local news station WLOS.
A Rare Virus
The rescue workers found that Noah had a temperature of 102. He also suffered a pair of seizures before reaching the hospital.
Doctors ran more tests at the hospital, including brain scans and bloodwork. Finally, a spinal tap reveal what was causing Noah's health issues: a single bug bite.
As far as Surrett and the doctors can tell, Noah was bitten by a mosquito while playing outside last week. The bug must have passed the harmful La Crosse encephalitis virus to the boy.
Encephalitis, or brain swelling, is a harmful condition that can sometimes be fatal.
Symptoms of La Crosse range from headaches, nausea, and vomiting to seizures, comas, and lifelong brain damage.
While it's not very well know, La Crosse is surprisingly common in some parts of America. More than 70 cases are reported nationwide each year, mainly in children under 16.
Despite living in an area with a higher risk of La Crosse, Surrett says this was "the first I have ever heard of it."
"He's really just like a zombie."
Noah spent a week recovering from the condition in the hospital, including a long stretch in the ICU, as he dealt with fevers, pain, and more seizures.
"He screams out in pain from the headaches," Surrett shared from her son's bedside, "and he's really just like a zombie."
"There was so many times it went through my mind, not knowing if he was going to make it," she admitted.
"Then all of a sudden, at 3 o’clock [last Thursday], he just sat up in bed and started talking to me," she said.
"It was just mind-blowing how much — just in a matter of minutes it's like he'd come to life."
While Noah is back at home and getting some much-needed rest, Surrett says he still has nightmares about his ordeal. Now, she's warning other parents to protect their children.
"I am a mother of [five] boys and I am a firm believer in bug spray and all that [to] keep the bugs away and it still happened to my little man," she wrote on Facebook.
"Use bug spray on your kids," she urged, "check for bites, it's not 100% preventable obviously but do what you can to try."
Experts say that wearing long sleeves and removing standing water from your yard can also help to prevent mosquito bites.
Noah's family and friends are raising money to cover the cost of his medical care. You can donate here.
Have you ever heard of La Crosse before?