The Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) confirmed one new case of West Nile Virus this week. Of the 55 total cases this year, 34 are neuroinvasive disease (WN-NID), seven West Nile fever and 14 asymptomatic. LDH also confirmed two additional West Nile Virus deaths, bringing the total number of deaths this year to four. The deaths occurred in LDH Regions 4, 2, 7 and 9 consecutively. A map of LDH regions can be found here: http://dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/OrgCharts/DHH_RgnlDistrictAthryMap.pdf.
"There should be a continued level of concern if you are outdoors or if your house is not adequately protected from mosquitoes," said LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. "Even though the weather is getting cooler, we should continue to protect ourselves against infections. West Nile Virus cases have been reported as late in the year as December."
West Nile infections are characterized in three ways: WN-NID, West Nile fever and asymptomatic.
● A WN-NID 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. It is important to note that cases of WN-NID are much less common than West Nile fever and asymptomatic cases.
● West Nile fever is less severe, with most people only suffering mild, flu-like symptoms.
● Asymptomatic individuals are never ill and are only discovered to have the West Nile Virus in their blood when blood work is done for some other reason, such as blood donation.
About 90 percent of all West Nile Virus cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent developing West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals show the serious symptoms associated with WN-NID. Residents who are at least 65 years old are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.
LDH has tracked West Nile Virus for more than a decade, and statistics about its occurrence in Louisiana can be found online at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/539.
The Louisiana Department of Health 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 LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.