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Louisiana health department shares tips on how to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses this summer

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BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Department of Health issued a statement on Thursday reminding the public to take precautions against mosquito bites that can expose people to West Nile virus and dengue virus.

In Louisiana, there is typically more mosquito activity in the warmer summer months, increasing the risk for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile and dengue, LDH said. 

LDH advised wearing EPA-registered mosquito repellent on exposed skin when outside and always follow product label instructions. LDH also recommends applying sunscreen first and insect repellent second, as well as making sure that windows and doors are tight-fitting and that all screens are free of holes.

LDH also said to eliminate any vessels where standing water can accumulate around homes to prevent mosquitos from breeding. 

West Nile virus is for the most part asymptomatic, but symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and/or rashes. A small percentage of people sickened by West Nile virus can develop a severe form of infection called West Nile neuroinvasive disease or West Nile encephalitis, which can result in hospitalization and death. In 2023, Louisiana experienced 65 West Nile cases, including 46 neuroinvasive disease cases and four deaths. 

The dengue virus is spread to people by mosquitoes and can cause mild or severe illness. While no locally acquired cases of dengue have been reported in Louisiana in recent history, the mosquito species which transmits the virus is present in the state, and locally acquired cases have been reported in Texas and Florida, LDH said.

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