The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) confirmed 11 new cases of West Nile virus this week, of which seven were neuroinvasive disease infections, bringing this year’s total to 103 reported infections. Included in the 11 new cases was one death in DHH Region 3, which includes St. Mary, St. James, St. John, St. Charles, Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.
DHH issues a weekly Arbovirus Surveillance Report that details cases detected thus far by parish. This week’s new infections include seven neuroinvasive disease cases in Ascension (1), LaFourche (3), Point Coupee (1), Terrebonne (1) and Washington (1) parishes. There were two new cases of West Nile fever; Jefferson Davis (1), Livingston (1) parishes, and two new asymptomatic cases in East Baton Rouge (1) and Ascension (1) parishes.
“Temperatures are starting to drop in parts of the state, but the start of fall weather shouldn’t change how you protect yourself from mosquito bites outside,” said DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “Remember that you can protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants when outside, using mosquito repellent and avoiding the outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are the most active.”
Last year, Louisiana saw 34 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease in the state, which was down from 2002’s high of 204 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease.
North America in 1999 in New York. Prior to that it had only been found in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of September 16, a total of 45 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. Overall, 725 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC, including 25 fatalities.