LaCrosse Virus

By: Jessica Aspiras Email
By: Jessica Aspiras Email

"It's accompanied by a high fever, a rash, sometimes dizziness as well."

These are all classic symptoms of LaCrosse Virus. It's a mosquito-borne illness similar to West Nile.

"A mosquito bites a bird, and then it transfers to humans," explains TJ Bucholz of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

LaCrosse gets it name from LaCrosse, Wisconsin -- where it's thought to have originated back in 1963. While it's been in the environment for decades, it was relatively unheard of until West Nile came along a few years ago.

"We at the Department of Community Health started testing heavily for West Nile Virus after it appeared, and [in] 2002 we saw twelve cases of LaCrosse just because of the increased testing."

Last year there were just two confirmed cases in the state. In fact only one out of every five people will notice symptoms.

"But when people do contract illness it can be serious. Most of these diseases lead to encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain and spinal cord."

That in turn can lead to kidney failure, paralysis, even death.

"Make sure that your screens are intact, so mosquitioes can't get inside, remove all standing water from your property."

Avoid the outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and use an insect repellant containing DEET. This will decrease your likelihood of contracting LaCrosse or any other mosquito-borne virus out there.


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