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Two kids diagnosed with disease from infected mosquito bite

By Candace Nelson

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.

In severe cases, people may have seizures or go into a coma. La Crosse is rarely fatal, but children may have headaches, seizures or other problems after they get well.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department noted several steps to prevent arboviral infections:

* Remove containers that collect water near homes (where mosquitoes lay eggs)

* Make sure doors and screens are bug tight

* Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever outdoors

* Avoid outside activities when mosquitoes are active (usually dusk and dawn)

* Use an effective insect repellent that contains one of the following: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 and follow manufacturer directions carefully

There is no way to determine if a mosquito is infected, so if you or your child develops symptoms, contact your physician. More information can be found at www.kchdwv.org or by calling the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department at 304-348-1088.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at Candace.Nelson@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/Candace07.


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