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La Crosse virus (LACV) is a major cause of pediatric encephalitis in the United States. Since the mid-1980s, the number of reported cases of LACV infection in West Virginia has continued to rise and the state currently reports the most cases in the United States. The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the spatial epidemiology and clinical presentation of LACV infection cases reported in West Virginia, as well as to provide a description of the environmental conditions present at the residences of the LACV infection cases.


Descriptive and spatial analyses were performed on LACV infection cases reported to the West Virginia Department of Health from 2003 to 2007. Clinical and environmental variables were available for 96 cases and residence data were available for 68 of these cases. Spatial analyses using the global Moran's I and Kulldorff's spatial scan statistic were performed using the population 15 years and younger at both the county and census tract levels to identify those geographic areas at the highest risk of infection.


Two statistically significant (p < 0.05) high-risk clusters, involving six counties, were detected at the county level. At the census tract level, one statistically significant high-risk cluster involving 41 census tracts spanning over six counties was identified. The county level cumulative incidence for those counties in the primary high-risk cluster ranged from 100.0 to 189.0 cases per 100,000 persons (median 189.0) and the census tract level cumulative incidence for those counties in the high-risk cluster ranged from 61.7 to 505.9 cases per 100,000 persons (median 99.0). The counties and census tracts within high-risk clusters had a relative risk four to nine times higher when compared to those areas not contained within high-risk clusters. The majority of LACV infection cases were reported during the summer months in children 15 years and younger. Fever, vomiting, photophobia, and nausea were the most commonly reported signs and symptoms. A case fatality rate (CFR) of 3.1% was observed. Wooded areas and containers were present at the majority of case residences.


The cumulative incidences of LACV infection from 2003 to 2007 were considerably higher than previously reported for West Virginia, and statistically significant high-risk clusters for LACV infection were detected at both the county and census tract levels. The finding of a high CFR and the identification of those areas at highest risk for infection will be useful for guiding future research and intervention efforts.

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