West Nile virus infections have now been identified in 38 people in Louisiana, according to the most recent report issued by the Department of Health and Hospitals.  Of the 38 total cases, 30 people have shown symptoms related to the virus and eight people were never ill.  Of the 30 symptomatic cases, 21 of them are the more serious, neuroinvasive disease and nine are West Nile fever.

At about this time last year, Louisiana had reported 202 total West Nile virus cases.

The full report can be accessed by clicking here.  The Department of Health will update this report on a regular basis throughout the remainder of the year.

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).

Other findings in the most recent report include:
• Total Human Cases:  38 (21 neuroinvasive, 9 fever, 8 asymptomatic)
• Deaths:  There have been no deaths linked to West Nile virus in Louisiana this year
• Other Mosquito-borne Illnesses: St. Louis Encephalitis (2 human cases)
• Horses: 13 confirmed cases of equine West Nile Virus, 38 confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis
• Sentinel Chickens: 71 sentinel chickens confirmed with West Nile and 10 confirmed with St. Louis Encephalitis
• Dead Birds: Of 30 birds tested for West Nile, 3 have tested positive
• Wild Birds: 2,058 wild birds submitted for testing; 88 tested positive
• Mosquito Pools: Over 22,400 pools of mosquitoes have been submitted for testing.  These tests confirm West Nile activity in 23 parishes

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, remove any standing water from around homes and make sure windows and doors have secure screens.