RICK MOSS of Big Lake contracted LaCrosse encephalitis from a mosquito bite. Now the father of three faces a long road to recovery. (Submitted photo).

A dangerous mosquito bite

Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards


Nobody likes mosquito bites. They itch like mad and take time to heal up. But they don’t usually make you sick.
Big Laker Rick Moss is an exception. Moss contracted LaCrosse encephalitis from a mosquito bite. Now he is facing a long road to recovery, physically and financially.
LaCrosse encephalitis occurs very rarely, with only one case reported in Minnesota so far this year. It generally affects children and older adults. Moss, 49, has diabetes but was otherwise healthy.
Aug. 21, Moss developed a sudden fever of 102.8F, It didn’t last long and his wife, Shelly, went to work at her hospital job in the Twin Cities. 
A short time later, Moss was having trouble talking and did not recognize his daughter, Aleesha, 15. The neighbor called for an ambulance. By the time it arrived Rick had no idea where or who he was.
Moss was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids where he resisted doctors’ attempts to examine him. He began having seizures. Physicians put him into an induced coma as his brain began to swell, pressing against his skull, causing damage.
“They tried to bring him out of it once but he was fighting them so hard, they had to put him back under,” said his friend, Kathie Ziebarth, who is one of many fiends helping to organize a benefit for his family.
Eventually Rick recovered enough to move into acute therapy and is now being moved into transitional therapy. He has no vision in his left eye and no short term memory. He has difficulty walking and needs direction to complete even the simplest task.
The only visitors Moss is allowed to see are his immediate family members. Some days, he knows who they are.
Rick and Shelly grew up in Crown and moved to Big Lake when their oldest son, Anthony, now 20, was one year old. They have a second son, Adam, who is a senior at Big Lake High School this year.
Rick worked as a mason and spent his career laying block and pouring foundations, until a shoulder injury put him on the sidelines. He is also an avid outdoorsman who loves hunting and fishing.
“His medical expenses are extreme,” said Ziebarth, a family friend from Lord of Glory Lutheran Church. ”He was not able to work for many months because of a shoulder injury. This illness has impacted the family emotionally and financially.”
The benefit will be held at McPete’s Sports Bar and Lanes on Hwy. 10 in Big Lake Oct. 12, from 1-5 p.m. There will be mini-golf, a taco bar, dollar bowling, a bake sale and a silent auction with over 100 items, including a signed Adrian Peterson Vikings jersey. 
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 10 and under. C ontact Kathy McMillen at (612) 232-1289 or Kelly Hoppe at (320) 260-5963 or Pat Hoppe ar (763) 482-2338 for more information.
The type of mosquito which carries the laCrosse encephalitis virus lives in the woods and lays eggs in small pools of water found in holes in trees. 
To reduce the risk of mosquitos, empty any container outdoors that holds water, including old tires. Fill any holes in tree branches with dirt. An infected mosquito transmits the virus to their offspring when they lay their eggs.


BIG LAKE COBORN’S STAFF have been raising funds for the Big Lake Fire Dept. through brat sales and the sale of buttons. Last week Coborns’s staff posed for a picture by the grill. Front row are Vicki Sabre and Kitty Underwood. Back row is Ashley Pelkey, Amy Fiester, Manager Mitch Utecht, Melissa Schafer, Michelle Galvin, Matt Schacht, Curt Allgood and John Howard. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

MEMBERS OF THE Big Lake American Legion flag corps, at attention during Monday’s Memorial Day services. From left, Dennis Gail, Don McVeigh, Don Deuel and Gary Poslusny. (Photos by Gary W. Meyer)

Larry and Lavina Pattee