Baton Rouge—The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed 19 additional human cases of West Nile Virus, bringing this year's total to 33, which includes 13 new cases of the potentially deadly neuroinvasive disease (NID). The new NID cases were reported from Caddo, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides and St. Tammany parishes. There were also new West Nile Fever (WNF) cases in Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge and St. Tammany parishes and new asymptomatic cases in Concordia, Rapides and Terrebonne parishes. These cases are detailed parish by parish in DHH's weekly Louisiana Arbovirus Surveillance Reports Section of the DHH Website here.
Health officials characterize West Nile infections three ways: NID, WNF and asymptomatic. A NID 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. WNF 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 Parish has reported the most West Nile Virus infections with four NID cases, and one case each of WNF and asymptomatic. East Baton Rouge Parish has reported three NID and two WNF 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 week we have seen a substantial increase in the number of neuroinvasive disease cases," said Dr. Ratard DHH State Epidemiologist. "This serves as a reminder that we should not be complacent, we should be on guard and take all the necessary precautions and measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being bitten by mosquitos."
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.