The Department of Health today confirmed 16 new human cases of West Nile virus, totaling 42 cases of the virus diagnosed this year throughout the state.
The new reported cases are from East Baton Rouge (3), Iberia (2), Livingston (3), Ouachita (7) and St. Bernard (1) parishes. In addition, an earlier case reportedly from Terrebonne Parish has been reclassified to Lafourche Parish.
Of the 42 cases statewide, 25 are considered to be neuro-invasive West Nile, the most serious form of the disease.
Dr. Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist, said he read where a local official recently credited a local mosquito control program with preventing human cases of West Nile virus in a particular parish.
“Such claims are misleading since it is very obvious that mosquito control, no matter how efficient and effective, cannot prevent all transmission of West Nile virus,” Ratard said. “In fact, the parish that was referenced in that news story has seen West Nile activity among birds and mosquitoes for 11 weeks since the beginning of the year.”
Ratard added that mosquito control does play an important role in West Nile prevention but cannot eliminate all of the mosquitoes or the virus altogether.
“People have to do their part, too,” he said. “You must protect your skin and protect your home and yard. Mosquito control cannot be everywhere all the time.”
West Nile virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites, begins with flu-like symptoms and in extreme cases can lead to brain damage or death.
To avoid West Nile virus, apply mosquito repellant, wear long sleeves and long pants and avoid wearing perfumes or colognes when outside for prolonged periods of time. Also, remove any standing water from around your home and make sure your windows and doors have secure screens.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit the LDH Web site, www.oph.dhh.louisiana.gov.