Posted: Jul 13, 2012 2:15 PM by Brian Waldrep
Updated: Jul 13, 2012 2:15 PM
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed six additional human cases of West Nile Virus, bringing this year's total to 10.
The six new cases come from East Feliciana, Jefferson, Rapides, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.
Health officials characterize West Nile infections three ways: neuroinvasive, West Nile fever and asymptomatic. A neuroinvasive illness is severe and typically results in a swelling of the brain or spinal cord. People with this illness are at risk of brain damage or death. West Nile fever is less severe, with most people only suffering mild, flu-like symptoms.
Asymptomatic individuals were never ill and were only discovered to have the West Nile virus in their blood when blood work was done for some other reason, such as blood donation.
This year, Rapides and Vernon parishes each have one case of neuroinvasive disease, Rapides and East Feliciana parishes each have a confirmed case of West Nile fever and Jefferson, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes each have one asymptomatic case.
Tangipahoa parish has three asymptomatic cases.
About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease.
Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.
"This is a reminder that West Nile Virus is once again here in Louisiana," said Dr. Ratard DHH State Epidemiologist. "It should always be taken seriously. In view of that, we should all take some simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce mosquito populations in and around the home."