ber of cases to be considerably under-reported. Most infections are mild, but can result in encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, progressing to seizures and coma. The CDC fact sheet also warns of potential adverse effects on IQ tests and school performance following infection.
"There's been a lot of talk about West Nile virus, and people are fairly well aware of it," Paulson said. "This is something that isn't as well known. While older people are more at risk for severe infection with West Nile virus, it is the young, those under 15, who are most at risk for La Crosse encephalitis."
Another difference is that the mosquitoes that transmit La Crosse virus are active during the day, while those that carry West Nile virus are most active at night and in twilight conditions.
Measures communities and homeowners can take include getting rid of breeding areas, which consist of areas of standing water. Around homes, that can be as simple as tipping the water out of an old tire or changing the water in a birdbath every few days. Communities may use chemical or biological measures to control mosquito populations.
"The first step is to understand the problem, and that is what we're working on now," said Paulson. "After that, it is a matter of raising awareness that a problem exists and that there are things people can do to counter that problem."
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Contact: Stewart MacInnis
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