Health Officials: WNC Could See Rise In Mosquito Illnesses -

Health Officials: WNC Could See Rise In Mosquito Illnesses

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Mosquitoes are still buzzing and health officials say that could put you and your family at risk. Mosquitoes are still buzzing and health officials say that could put you and your family at risk.

Barbara Weyhrauch hasn't changed her strategy.

Every year, she reminds parents who come to the Family Place of Transylvania County about mosquito-born illnesses.

"I would hate to have someone become infected and knowing that we could have maybe prevented it," says Weyhrauch.

September is typically when health officials see an increase in La Crosse encephalitis cases.

The virus is transmitted to people from two kinds of mosquitoes: the Asian tiger mosquito and the tree hole mosquito. Both types can be found in North Carolina.

"It is a particular concern in Transylvania County because there is a cluster of cases that generally occurs here every year," said Director Steve Smith of the Transylvania County Department of Public Health.

Young children are more vulnerable to the La Crosse disease, however, anyone bitten by a mosquito in an area where the virus is circulating can get infected.

Those who become ill may experience fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. In severe cases, the virus can be deadly.

One child has been treated for La Crosse in Transylvania County this year, but health officials expect that number to go up.

The area usually experiences four cases a year on average.

Smith says the consistent rain showers overs the summer have created a hotbed for mosquito breeding. He is encouraging parents to "fight the bite" by spraying kids with insect repellent before going outside.

Since there is no specific antiviral treatment for La Crosse encephalitis, Smith says prevention efforts are very important.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following guidelines to prevent mosquito bites:

- Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing to protect through several washes. Always follow the directions on the package.

- Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.

- Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and other containers. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children’s wading pools and store on their side after use.

- La Crosse virus can survive the winter in the mosquito eggs that will hatch into infected mosquitoes in the spring. Cleaning potential breeding sites such as old tires or tin cans can reduce the number of infected eggs developing into infected mosquitoes. As the Aedes triseriatus mosquito prefers treeholes for breeding sites, you can reduce mosquitoes by filling treeholes in/around your yard with soil.

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