The Department of Health reports 27 new cases of West Nile that have been detected since the last update, which was issued Oct. 11. There have been three new cases of West Nile reported in Jefferson Parish and two new cases reported in Orleans Parish since Hurricane Katrina. There has been one case of West Nile reported in Calcasieu Parish and none in Cameron Parish since Hurricane Rita.
“Despite seeing a few cases in the affected areas, there was no spike in West Nile because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “The majority of cases this year have occurred in North Louisiana, which was not directly affected. Overall, the 2005 West Nile case count is similar to what we have seen in the past two years.”
The new West Nile cases, in addition to those mentioned above, are from Acadia (1), Ascension (2), Caddo (3), DeSoto (1), East Baton Rouge (5), Franklin (1), Iberia (1), Livingston (1), Rapides (2), St. Tammany (1), Tangipahoa (1) and Washington (2) parishes. In addition, a case previously reported from Morehouse Parish was removed from the case count after further examination revealed it was not a West Nile case.
For a complete listing of West Nile cases detected so far, click here.
In addition to the West Nile cases, other mosquito-borne illnesses have occurred in Louisiana this year. There has been one case of St. Louis encephalitis from Orleans Parish (onset was prior to the hurricane,) one case of Eastern Equine encephalitis in St. John Parish and one case of LaCrosse virus from St. Tammany Parish.
LaCrosse, St. Louis encephalitis, Eastern Equine encephalitis and West Nile virus all are spread to humans through mosquito bites, begin with flu-like symptoms and in extreme cases can lead to brain damage or death.
There have been seven deaths from West Nile virus reported in Louisiana this year. There have been two deaths in Caddo Parish, and one death in East Baton Rouge, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides and West Baton Rouge parishes. No deaths from other mosquito-borne illness have occurred.
In 2004, there were 114 cases of West Nile and seven deaths and in 2003 there were 122 cases and seven deaths from the disease. In 2002, the state experienced 329 cases and 25 deaths.
To avoid mosquito-borne illness, residents should 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 LDH Web site, www.oph.dhh.louisiana.gov.