More serious illnesses from West Nile virus have been reported so far this year than any since 2004, health officials said Wednesday. (mgnonline.com)
Last Modified: Saturday, August 04, 2012 6:55 PM
BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Friday confirmed that a person in Calcasieu Parish has contracted neuroinvasive West Nile Virus, the most serious form of the virus.
Also on Friday, the DHH said two people have died in Louisiana as a result of neuroinvasive West Nile.
Louisiana's health department confirmed this week's deaths, the first West Nile deaths in the state since 2008, when one person died.
The health department also said the number of overall West Nile infections in the state this year rose by 21 this week for a total of 53.
West Nile infections usually cause no symptoms or relatively mild flu-like symptoms. But, in some cases, the mosquito-borne virus causes life-threatening brain or spinal cord diseases.
The total number of life-threatening cases reported for 2012 in Louisiana rose sharply this week, from 16 to 29.
"West Nile Virus is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly," said Dr. Ratard DHH State Epidemiologist. "We know from the past 10 years of surveillance that this disease has reached every corner of the state, meaning people are at risk for West Nile regardless of whether there are cases and deaths in your parish. People should own their own health and take responsibility to make all the necessary precautions that protect you and your loved ones from mosquito bites."
The new NID cases were reported from Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Natchitoches, Orleans, Rapides, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes. There were also new West Nile Fever (WNF) cases in Jefferson, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes and new asymptomatic cases in East Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Lincoln parishes.
On Wednesday, the CDC reported that more serious illnesses from West Nile virus have been reported so far this year than any since 2004.
Through the end of July, 241 human cases have been reported in 22 states, including four deaths. Texas, especially around the Dallas area, has seen the bulk of them.
Health officials believe the mild winter, early spring and very hot summer have fostered breeding of the mosquitoes that spread the virus to people.