A 7-year-old Mount Vernon child has been diagnosed with LaCrosse virus, a rare and dangerous illness that is transmitted through the bite from an infected mosquito, according to the Knox County Health Department.
The mosquito is the eastern tree-hole mosquito, an aggressive daytime- biting mosquito commonly found in wooded areas. This particular mosquito is known for laying its eggs in the holes of trees where water collects as well as other water collection sites, according to a press released from the health department.
Anyone who lives near or spends time in wooded areas is at increased risk for LaCross virus, officials said.
Many people infected with La Crosse virus have no apparent symptoms.
For those who do, symptoms typically begin five to 15 days after a mosquito bite and include non-specific symptoms such as: fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and lethargy, according to the health department.
La Crosse virus can only be diagnosed by a healthcare provider through a blood or cerebrospinal fluid sample collected for laboratory testing, according to the health department.
Severe illness most often occurs among children younger than 16 years old and is characterized by: seizures, coma, paralysis and a variety of neurologic complications after recovery.
Infection from the LaCrosse virus can lead to encephalitis, officials said.
Death from infection with La Crosse virus is rare and occurs in less than one percent of cases, officials said.
The most effective way to prevent infection from La Crosse virus is to prevent mosquito bites, according to the health department.
Mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
Whenever residents are in areas prone to mosquitos such as high grass, damp areas or wooded areas, they are encouraged to wear insect repellent, treating their skin, clothing and gear, officials said.