CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two local children have been diagnosed with a disease caused by an infected mosquito bite that can lead to severe, life-threatening inflammation of the brain.
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department officials are investigating cases of two Kanawha County children under age 15 who were being hospitalized and diagnosed with La Crosse Encephalitis, confirmed Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha-Charleston executive director.
Both children have since been released from the hospital. One case occurred at the end of July and the other was in August, said Janet Briscoe, director of epidemiology and emergency preparedness at Kanawha-Charleston.
Health officials in West Virginia routinely test mosquitoes to determine if they are infected with disease that can be transmitted to humans, health officials said in a press release.
According to the 2013 West Virginia Vectoborne Disease Surveillance Report, the La Crosse virus has been isolated from mosquito pools collected in several counties in West Virginia, including a site in the eastern part of Kanawha County.
Children under age 15 are most at risk, though the disease can occur at any age.
Children are more likely to get the infection if they live near the woods and play outdoors frequently between May and October near areas where mosquitoes breed. Breeding can occur in areas where there are containers that collect and hold water, such as old tires, rain barrels, buckets and wading pools.
Breeding grounds can even be found in discarded cans or bottles.
Arboviral infections commonly occur during the summer and fall when mosquitoes are active. Most people with La Crosse infection do not get sick. Some people may develop a mild illness with symptoms of headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and confusion.