The Department of Health has announced the second West Nile virus case of 2008.  The case was confirmed in a Jefferson Parish resident. 

This case is very similar to the first confirmed case of 2008:  both were found during routine screenings for blood donors and both individuals were asymptomatic, which means that they did not show any signs of illness.

While these cases were confirmed outside of the typical West Nile virus season, this fact does not mean that the season will be more active than in past years.  The first case usually appears from the end of June to mid- July.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard stressed that the detection of these cases proves that the Department of Health and Hospitals’ year-round surveillance system is working.

“Our surveillance system found two cases of the virus outside of the normal season, and in individuals that felt good enough to donate blood,” Dr. Ratard said.  “This is why we monitor the virus year round.”

West Nile virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites.  If a person develops symptoms, the symptoms are flu-like.  In extreme cases, the virus can lead to brain damage or death.  Dr. Ratard says that no matter what the time of year is, and no matter how active the season, citizens are always urged to take precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.

Make sure your house is mosquito-proofed and has tightly-fitting windows and doors.
In your yard, you should empty any containers filled with water, as these are where mosquitoes breed.
Be sure to wear long pants and sleeves when going outside, and wear mosquito repellent on exposed skin.

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