The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has confirmed one new case of West Nile virus this week, bringing the total to seven cases in 2021. WNV, most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito, is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. While the number of human WNV cases reported to date in 2021 is similar to the past two years, surveillance has identified more positive mosquito pools in July and August than in recent years. WNV surveillance updates are available on LDH’s website here.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Louisiana is expecting heavy mosquito production in areas with floodwater. LDH is working closely with the mosquito abatement directors and various contractors to ensure they are performing proper mosquito control measures to eliminate breeding sites and reduce the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.
Louisiana residents can take the following steps to reduce their risk of WNV:
- If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET or Picaridin. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Children younger than 2 months should not wear insect repellant. LDH recommends that you always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.
- Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
- To apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.
- Adults should always apply repellent to children.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods.
- Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods.
- Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.
Protecting your home
- Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.
- Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trashcans, children's toys, saucers under pots, or any object that could collect water.
- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
- Check and clean roof gutters routinely. Often overlooked, roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if allowed to stagnate.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not in use. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.