ST. PAUL (AP) -- Lab tests have confirmed what appears to be the first two cases of mosquito-borne LaCrosse encephalitis in Minnesota this season, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday.
The first laboratory-confirmed cases of the illness were reported in a child from western Hennepin County and a child from Dodge County. Both were hospitalized, but have been released and are now recovering.
Health officials urge Minnesotans to use the same measures to protect themselves from LaCrosse encephalitis that they do for West Nile virus, another disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
That includes using mosquito repellent with DEET, eliminating standing water where the bugs can breed and wearing long shirts and pants in areas where mosquitoes are biting.
LaCrosse remains the most common form of mosquito-borne encephalitis nationwide and has been a fixture of life in the upper Midwest for many years, said David Neitzel, a Health Department epidemiologist.
Symptoms can include high fever, headache, confusion and other neurological problems.
Since 1985, 101 cases of LaCrosse (including one death) have been reported to state health officials. Twelve cases were reported last year. About half the cases where in children six and under.
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