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Aiding the diagnosis of California (La Crosse) encephalitis
California (La Crosse) virus is a member of bunyaviridae and it is 1 of the arthropod-borne encephalitides. It is transmitted by various Aedes and Culex mosquitoes and is found in such intermediate hosts as the rabbit, squirrel, chipmunk, and field mouse.
California meningoencephalitis is usually mild and occurs in late summer. Ninety percent of infections are seen in children <15 years of age, usually from rural areas. The incubation period is estimated to be 7 days and acute illness lasts < or =10 days in most instances. Typically, the first symptoms are nonspecific, last 1 to 3 days, and are followed by the appearance of central nervous system signs and symptoms such as stiff neck, lethargy, and seizures, which usually abate within 1 week. Symptomatic infection is almost never recognized in those >18 years old. The most important sequelae of California virus encephalitis is epilepsy, which occurs in about 10% of children; almost always in patients who have had seizures during the acute illness. A few patients (estimated 2%) have persistent paresis. Learning disabilities or other objective cognitive deficits have been reported in a small proportion (<2%) of patients. Learning performance and behavior of most recovered patients are not distinguishable from comparison groups in these same areas.
Infections with arboviruses can occur at any age. The age distribution depends on the degree of exposure to the particular transmitting arthropod relating to age, sex, and occupational, vocational, and recreational habits of the individuals. Once humans have been infected, the severity of the host response may be influenced by age. Serious
California (La Crosse) virus infections primarily involve children, especially boys. Adult males exposed to California viruses have high prevalence rates of antibody but usually show no serious illness. Infection among males is primarily due to working conditions and sports activities taking place where the vector is present.
Reference values apply to all ages.
A positive result indicates intrathecal synthesis of antibody and is indicative of neurological infection.
All results must be correlated with clinical history and other data available to the attending physician.
False-positive results may be caused by breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, or by the introduction of blood into the cerebrospinal fluid at collection.
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