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Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals | Kathy Kliebert, Secretary

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DHH Confirms Four New Cases of West Nile Virus

Health Officials Encourage Residents to Take Precautions to Protect Themselves

Friday, July 20, 2012  |  Contact: Media & Communications: Phone: 225.342.1532, E-mail: dhhinfo@la.gov

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."  

Protect Yourself 

  • If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months. CDC 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 of time.
  • Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
  • Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.

Mosquito Population Control 

  • 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 or buckets 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.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters yearly. They are often overlooked, but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family that goes on vacation 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.  

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.

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