North Carolina Records Two Cases of La Crosse Encephalitis

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Public health officials today announced the seasons first two cases of La Crosse encephalitis. One patient was infected in Buncombe County, the other in Jackson County. The patients both teenagers were hospitalized but are now improving.


With all of the attention that has been focused on West Nile virus in the past few years, some people overlook the fact that there are other mosquito-borne illnesses, said State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin. We average about 20 cases of La Crosse a year. People need to protect themselves from mosquito-bites. That means properly applying a mosquito repellant that contains DEET and mosquito-proofing your environment.


La Crosse is the most common mosquito-borne illness in North Carolina. It is found predominantly in the western part of the state. Symptoms occur from a few days to a couple of weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. These symptoms include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. In more severe cases, convulsions, tremors and coma can occur. Children under 16 years of age and the elderly are the most susceptible to the disease. There are, on average, 70 cases of La Crosse virus annually in America. In 2003, North Carolina had 23 cases of La Crosse. La Crosse is rarely fatal, although a Transylvania County girl died from the disease in 2001. It is named for the city of La Crosse, Wisc., where it was first identified in 1963.


The best defense against LAC infection is to avoid mosquito bites.


Source: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services