CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two cases of La Crosse encephalitis have been reported in Kanawha County.
Two children under the age of 15 who live in the eastern part of the county were admitted to the hospital Wednesday diagnosed with the illness. They were later released following treatment.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is currently undergoing an investigation into the two cases.
La Crosse encephalitis is transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito. It can cause brain inflammation resulting in a life-threatening illness.
Officials with the health department said most people who get La Crosse encephalitis don’t get sick and the disease is rarely fatal.
Some may have a mild illness and symptoms that include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and confusion. In severe cases, people can have seizures or go into a coma.
Children are most likely to get the disease if they live near the woods and play outside near areas where mosquitoes breed.
Officials recommend people and children steer clear of areas where there are containers that hold standing water such as old tires, rain barrels, buckets and wading pools. Mosquitoes breed between May and October.
The health department also recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, making sure doors and screens are tight enough to keep bugs out and using
effective insect repellant to avoid catching the illness.
Mosquitoes are regularly tested for diseases that can be given to humans by health officials in the state. The La Crosse virus was found in several counties, including a site in the eastern part of Kanawha County.
Last year, there was only one case of La Crosse encephalitis in all of Kanawha County.