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Mosquito Borne Diseases M N W I*

Mosquito-borne disease comes early to Minnesota-Wisconsin border area

Associated Press

Friday, June 15, 2001

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- The first case of mosquito-borne encephalitis has been reported in the southern Minnesota-Wisconsin border area earlier than usual this year.

Shawn Kronebusch, 15, of the Winona, Minn., area was hospitalized in La Crosse for two days last week with what local laboratory tests indicated was the La Crosse strain of encephalitis.

``It's the earliest case I've seen in the area,'' said Dave Geske, mosquito control officer for the La Crosse County Health Department, ``and this means it could be a bad year for encephalitis.''

Last year, the first of nine encephalitis cases in the La Crosse area was not reported until early August.

Geske said weather conditions so far this spring, with high water from flooding and heavy rainfall coupled with some warm days, have been perfect for producing mosquitoes.

``The weather has not been on our side,'' Geske said. ``We're certainly finding a lot of Aedes triseriatus - more than we would normally find this time of the year - and we've seen some adult activity.''

Aedes triseriatus, a tree-hole mosquito, causes the La Crosse strain of encephalitis, a viral disease that usually affects children ages 6 to 15 and attacks the central nervous system.

The mosquito uses tree holes, tires and other water-filled open containers to breed.

Officials say the area used to average about 35 encephalitis cases a year before La Crosse County began a mosquito control program in the late 1970s.

Geske has urged area residents to be more vigilant about cleaning up yards to eliminate potential mosquito hatching sites.

``We need to get this message out even earlier this year, and we need to make sure we're doing everything we can to prevent cases,'' he said.

Geske said it was not known how Kronebusch was infected.

Dawn Kronebusch said her son became ill after doing lawn work on June 3. He went to school the next day, but the illness became worse by night, and she took him to Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse.

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