Baton Rouge – Although the Department of Health today reports 30 new cases of West Nile virus, the recent hurricanes do not appear to have increased the disease in Louisiana, as some had feared.
“The gloomy predictions of large outbreaks of West Nile did not come through and may not materialize before the end of the season,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “Post-hurricane cases are very few and mostly occurred in the Baton Rouge area and the northshore area of Lake Pontchartrain, where the virus was heavily present before the hurricanes.”
The new West Nile cases are from Ascension (2), Beauregard (1), Caddo (3), Calcasieu (1), Caldwell (1), East Baton Rouge (2), Iberville (2), Jefferson (1), Livingston (1), Morehouse (1), Orleans (4), Ouachita (1), Rapides (3), Richland (1), St. Tammany (1),Tangipahoa (2), Vernon (1), Washington (2) parishes. No new deaths from West Nile have been reported.
"The areas with the highest incidence of West Nile cases this year are the Shreveport and Monroe areas, both of which were not directly impacted by hurricanes,” Dr. Ratard said. “Also, most of the cases in this update occurred before the hurricanes.”
To avoid West Nile virus, 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.
“In comparing this year to other West Nile seasons in Louisiana, the pattern this year appears similar to 2003 and 2004, rather than in 2002, when the state saw a massive outbreak of the disease,” Dr. Ratard said. “We do not anticipate seeing such an outbreak this year, even after the recent storm activity.”
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.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit the LDH Web site, www.oph.dhh.louisiana.gov.