Posted: Sep 24, 2010 5:49 PM by Heather Harel
Updated: Sep 24, 2010 6:23 PM
Source: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
There are two new human cases of West Nile Virus, bringing this year’s total to 25, according to The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
The cases come from Iberia and St. Tammany Parishes and are reported in DHH’s weekly Louisiana Arbovirus Surveillance Summary, which can be found in the Surveillance Reports Section of the DHH Web site here.
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. Both new cases reported were neuroinvasive disease.
This year, West Nile Virus in Louisiana is most prevalent in East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parishes, with 12 cases and nine cases respectively. East Baton Rouge has had seven cases of the more serious neuroinvasive disease, one case of West Nile Fever and four asymptomatic cases. Ascension Parish has had one case of neuroinvasive disease, five cases of West Nile Fever and three asymptomatic cases. Red River, Livingston, Iberia and St. Tammany Parishes each have one case of neuroinvasive disease. No deaths have been attributed to West Nile this year.
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. West Nile Virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites. DHH encourages residents to take precautions to protect themselves.
To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, residents can take the following precautions:
Residents can also help control the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around their home, which is where mosquitoes breed. Louisianians are encouraged to follow these tips:
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit its Web site here. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH’s blog, Twitter, and search for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Facebook.