Baton Rouge—The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed four additional human cases of West Nile Virus, bringing this year's total to 14, which includes one case of neuroinvasive disease from St. Tammany Parish. The four new cases are from Bossier, East Baton Rouge, St. Tammany and West Baton Rouge parishes. These cases are reported in DHH's weekly Louisiana Arbovirus Surveillance Reports Section of the DHH Website here.
Health officials characterize West Nile infections three ways: neuroinvasive, West Nile fever and asymptomatic. 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. Asymptomatic individuals were never ill and were only discovered to have the West Nile virus in their blood when blood work was done for some other reason, such as blood donation.
This year, St. Tammany, Rapides and Vernon parishes each have one case of neuroinvasive disease, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana and Rapides parishes each have a confirmed case of West Nile fever and Bossier, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and West Baton Rouge parishes each have one asymptomatic case. Tangipahoa Parish has three asymptomatic cases.
About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.
"This is a reminder that West Nile Virus is once again here in Louisiana," said Dr. Ratard DHH State Epidemiologist. "It should always be taken seriously. In view of that, we should all take some simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce mosquito populations in and around the home."
Mosquito Population Control
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.