Public health officials today announced nine new cases of West Nile virus and one new case of St. Louis encephalitis. Statewide, 25 humans have been infected with mosquito-borne illnesses this year.
There are three new West Nile virus cases from Caddo Parish and one each from Bossier, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ouachita, Richland and West Carroll parishes. One of the Caddo cases was traced through blood donation, meaning the victim is not experiencing any symptoms of the virus. There have been 19 human cases of West Nile detected this year.
A new case of St. Louis encephalitis from Rapides Parish was reported. This is the third case of that disease reported this year. There also have been three cases of LaCrosse virus previously reported.
There have been two fatalities in Louisiana from mosquito-borne illness this year. An East Baton Rouge Parish man died Aug. 9 of West Nile virus and a Bossier Parish man died Aug. 16 from St. Louis encephalitis.
Although the case count has risen in the past two weeks, the numbers still are lower than this time last year, when Louisiana had reported 34 cases of West Nile virus. At this time during the 2002 outbreak, Louisiana had reported 147 cases of West Nile virus, with eight deaths stemming from the disease. Nationwide, the majority of West Nile cases are striking the Western states, particularly Arizona and California.
West Nile and LaCrosse viruses, as well as St. Louis encephalitis, typically spread to humans through bites from mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird. The majority of people who get the virus experience no illness or an infection similar to a mild flu with fever, headache and fatigue. Rarely, the virus multiplies in the central nervous system and can cause encephalitis or meningitis. If you begin experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor or health care provider.
To avoid mosquito-borne illness, 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 or other mosquito-borne diseases, visit the OPH Web site, www.FightTheBiteLouisiana.com.