Haywood County Health Director, Patrick Johnson, recently confirmed that two residents of Haywood County has been diagnosed with La Crosse Encephalitis Virus (LACV). The patients, one of whom required a hospital stay, are recovering well at home. “This is an unfortunate reminder that all residents in our community need to take precautions to reduce exposure to mosquitos and prevent mosquito bites,” said Johnson.
The mosquitoes that spread LACV are most active during the daytime. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “the best way to reduce your risk of infection with LACV or other mosquito-borne viruses is to use insect repellent (containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535), wear long sleeves, long pants and socks or stay indoors while mosquitoes are most active.” Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. “It is critical to get rid of mosquito breeding sites,” says Johnson. Some suggestions include emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths often.
La Crosse encephalitis virus (LACV) is maintained in a cycle between Aedes triseriatus (the eastern treehole mosquito) and vertebrate hosts in deciduous forest habitats (i.e., forests with trees that lose their leaves each year). Humans can become infected with LACV from the bite of an infected mosquito. However humans rarely, if ever, develop high enough concentrations of LACV in their bloodstreams to infect feeding mosquitoes. Humans are therefore considered incidental hosts for LACV.
According to the CDC, “approximately 80-100 cases of LACV are reported each year in the United States and most occur in children under 16 years of age.” Many people infected with LACV have no apparent symptoms. Those who become ill, usually within 5-15 days of exposure, may experience fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Some of those who become ill will develop severe neuroinvasive disease (disease that affects the nervous system) which often involves encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and can include seizures, coma, paralysis and, in rare cases, long-term disability or death. There is no specific antiviral treatment for LACV infection. Most often people are hospitalized and care is based on symptom management. “Awareness, education and prevention are key,” says Johnson. If you or a family member has symptoms of LACV disease or any symptoms causing you concern, promptly consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.
For further information regarding La Crosse Encephalitis Virus, contact the Haywood County Health Department at 828-452-6675 or go to https://www.cdc.gov/lac/index.html .