DHH warns April showers can lead to heavier West Nile season
BATON ROUGE - Health officials warned people in Louisiana to prepare for a heavy mosquito season after all the rain that poured into the state this month.
The Department of Health and Hospitals said the frequent April showers left behind lots of standing water. They recommended people check their property and remove those possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which pass the West Nile virus through bites.
"It's important to check for standing water in buckets, swimming pool covers and anywhere else that could cause a problem," said DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard.
DHH has been tracking West Nile virus infections for more than a decade in Louisiana. Last year Louisiana reported 61 cases of neuroinvasive West Nile, the most severe form of the virus.
State health officials said while everyone is at risk, people 65 or older are at higher risk of complications. Dr. Ratard said people should remember to wear mosquito repellent anytime they're outside, along with long-sleeved shirts and pants when going outdoors for long periods of time.
Officials also recommended reducing the chance of standing water accumulating at your home by trashing tin cans, pots, or other containers and turning over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, children's toys or other items which can collect water. Outdoor recycling containers should have holes drilled in the bottom to allow water to drain out, and roof gutters should be regularly cleaned out. Dr. Ratard said those can often be overlooked and sometimes produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
More information on West Nile prevention and signs can be found on DHH's website.