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Ohio Department of Health confirms first Lake County case of La Crosse encephalitis since 2014

Severe disease occurs most often in children under the age of 16.
Credit: CDC / James Gathany

LAKE COUNTY, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health has notified the Lake County General Health District that a resident in that county has a confirmed case of La Crosse encephalitis. 

This is the first time since 2014 that Lake County has had a confirmed case of La Cross encephalitis, and the third case reported in the county in the last ten years. 

La Crosse encephalitis is a viral disease spread to people by the bite of an infected Aedes triseriatus (Eastern tree hole) mosquito. Tree hole mosquitoes are generally found in woodland/forested environments, including suburban areas, and are rare in open areas. The females most often feed on the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Main hosts for this mosquito are the eastern chipmunk, the gray squirrel, and fox squirrels.  

According to the Lake County General Health District, many people infected have no visible symptoms. Some of those who become ill develop severe neuroinvasive disease (disease that affects the nervous system). Severe disease often involves encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), and can include seizures, coma, and paralysis. Severe disease occurs most often in children under the age of 16.

The Lake County General Health District has listed several steps you can take to help reduce mosquito breeding sites in your home: 

  • Dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, plastic covers, or other containers that collect and hold water.
  • Keep roof gutters unclogged. Clean gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Fill or drain puddles, ditches, and swampy areas, and either remove, drain, or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar.
  • Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks.
  • Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs.

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