Haywood child has one of first two cases of mosquito-borne virus Print
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The following news release was issued July 15, 2008 by the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services. For local information, please contact  Carmine Rocco, Director, Haywood County Health Dept., at 8280452-6675.

RALEIGH – State public health officials today announced the season’s first two case of the mosquito-borne illness La Crosse viral encephalitis (LAC).  The two patients – children from Haywood and Transylvania counties – are recovering.

“These cases are an unfortunate reminder that we all need to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” State Epidemiologist Jeffrey Engel said.  “In addition to La Crosse, mosquitoes are carriers of eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus and other diseases.  Thankfully, it is fairly easy for people to protect themselves by applying mosquito repellants and making their home or work environment less attractive to mosquitoes.”

La Crosse 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.

While other mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus are found across the state, LAC is largely confined to western North Carolina and is the state’s most common mosquito-borne disease.  State officials recorded 10 LAC cases in 2007.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records about 70 cases each year.  The disease is rarely fatal, but a Transylvania County child died as a result of infection in 2001.

Steps that people can take to make their homes less mosquito-friendly include:

• Remove any containers that can hold water;

• Keep gutters clean and in good repair;

• Repair leaky outdoor faucets and change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week; and

• Check window and door screens.

These guidelines can be applied almost anywhere, such as work sites, church playgrounds and ball fields.

People can also protect their families from mosquito bites by using mosquito repellants. The CDC recommends several repellants, including DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.  According to the CDC, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3.  Consumers should look for products that contain the CDC-recommended ingredients and follow all label instructions. (www.cdc.gov/Features/WestNileVirus/)

People can also “fight the bite” by wearing light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts and by reducing time spent outdoors, particularly in early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.

For additional information regarding mosquitoes and ticks, please visit: www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/arbovirus/ and www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/phpm/index.htm.