State sees increase in West Nile cases
Louisiana has had more West Nile virus diagnoses - and more serious infections - so far this year than in all of 2009.
Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals says cases in Iberia and Vermilion parishes bring this year's total to 27 - 12 in East Baton Rouge Parish and nine in Ascension.
Nobody has died, but both new cases are serious infections which can damage the brain or nervous system, according to the weekly surveillance report.
It identified 14 such 'neuroinvasive' cases this year - three more than in all of 2009, when 23 people were diagnosed with the virus.
Serious infections include seven in East Baton Rouge, two in Iberia, and one each in Ascension, Red River, Livingston, St. Tammany and Vermilion parishes.
Ascension has five cases of flulike West Nile fever, with one in East Baton Rouge.
Blood tests identified seven infections without symptoms: four in East Baton Rouge and three in Ascension.
The vast majority of people bitten by a mosquito that carries the virus won't show any symptoms. About one in 10 comes down with West Nile fever and a tiny percentage develops infections affecting the brain or spinal column.
Because birds and mosquitoes throughout Louisiana carry the virus, the department urges people to protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and using mosquito repellent and keeping mosquitoes out of their homes and yards.