An 84-year-old man from Bossier Parish died Monday of St. Louis encephalitis, marking the state’s second death from mosquito-borne illness this year.
The Department of Health yesterday confirmed that a 75-year-old man from East Baton Rouge Parish died of West Nile virus Aug. 9.
Statewide, there have been 14 human cases of mosquito-borne illness this year. There have been 10 human cases of West Nile virus; five from East Baton Rouge Parish and one each from Ascension, Caddo, Livingston, Rapides and Union parishes. The Livingston case previously was listed as a Tangipahoa case, but further investigation identified the victim as a resident of the neighboring parish. A previously undetermined residence case was identified as being from East Baton Rouge Parish, raising that parish’s count from four cases to five.
In addition to these cases, there have been two human cases of LaCrosse virus; one each from Beauregard and East Feliciana parishes, and a St. Louis encephalitis case from East Baton Rouge in addition to the case from Bossier.
In humans, West Nile virus typically spreads 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.
In addition to human cases, West Nile virus still is appearing in the bird population. In the past week, 39 of 43 birds tested positive for West Nile virus. The birds were from 20 widely-scattered parishes: Allen, Caddo, Caldwell, East Carroll, East Baton Rouge, Franklin, Iberia, Jefferson, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Rapides, Richland, St. Bernard, St. James. St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa.
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 OPH Web site, www.FightTheBiteLouisiana.com.