Health officials continue to identify very few cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana this year. To date, only 44 cases of the mosquito-borne human disease have been confirmed. This compares to 190 cases at this same time last year.
Over the past two week, only six new cases have been identified. There were a total of four cases of the more serious infections. These cases were found in the following parishes: Caddo, Evangeline, Rapides and Sabine. The two cases of the less serious West Nile fever came from Orleans and Ouachita parishes.
According to the most recent West Nile virus report issued by the Department of Health and Hospitals, of the 44 total cases, 25 are the more serious, neuroinvasive disease, 11 are West Nile fever and there are eight are from people who did not feel ill and did not know they had an infection. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or through routine medical tests.
The Department of Health has been updating this report since late July.
Health officials characterize West Nile virus three ways: a neuroinvasive 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. West Nile fever is less severe, with most people only suffering mild, flu-like symptoms. People who are asymptomatic never fall ill and are only discovered to have the West Nile antibodies when blood work was done for some other reason (such as donating blood).
Significant findings in the most recent report include:
• Total Human Cases: 44 (25 neuroinvasive, 11 fever, 8 asymptomatic)
• Deaths: There have been two fatalities linked to West Nile virus in Louisiana this year (in Caddo and Morehouse parishes)
• Other Mosquito-borne Illnesses: St. Louis Encephalitis (2 human cases)
West Nile virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites. Health officials continue to urge citizens to take the necessary precautions to limit their exposure to this virus.
Precautions include: Use mosquito repellant, wear long sleeves and long pants and avoid wearing perfumes or colognes when outside for prolonged periods of time. Also, removes any standing water from around homes and make sure windows and doors have secure screens.