Last Modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 2:55 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Fifteen new West Nile virus cases and one death from the virus have been reported in the past week, according to the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
In addition, one patient's illness changed from flu-like West Nile fever to a dangerous "neuroinvasive" infection affecting the brain or spinal cord.
"Not only do we continue to find more cases — this week, we have three parishes reporting their first human cases of West Nile for the year," DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said in a news release. "Clearly, this virus remains a threat, and it's important to protect your health and avoid mosquito bites even as the weather gets colder and drier."
The parishes with their first human cases of West Nile this year were Assumption, St. Landry and Winn.
Including the case that became more serious, the six new neuroinvasive cases included two each in Orleans and Rapides parishes, and one each in Jefferson and Tangipahoa parishes. Ten new fever cases include two each in East Baton Rouge, Rapides and Winn parishes, and one each in Assumption, Catahoula, Ouachita and St. Landry parishes.
They bring the total this year to 371 cases, including 152 of neuroinvasive disease, and 16 deaths, all within two weeks of disease onset.
West Nile virus has been present in Louisiana since 2002, when 328 people got sick and 24 died. A total of 204 cases were infections affecting the brain or spinal cord.