With the increasing numbers of West Nile virus cases in the state, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is urging residents to be vigilant and protect themselves from mosquitoes. This week, DHH confirmed 10 new cases of West Nile virus, of which seven were neuroinvasive disease cases, bringing this year’s total to 52 reported infections. Prior to these new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s August 19, 2014 weekly West Nile Virus report, Louisiana had the second highest number of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease cases.

Public domain map courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
Public domain map courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

DHH issues a weekly Arbovirus Surveillance Report that details cases detected thus far by parish. This week’s new infections include neuroinvasive disease cases in Ascension (1), East Baton Rouge (5) and Ouachita (1) parishes. There were three new asymptomatic cases in the state from Caddo (2) and Pointe Coupee (1) parishes. There were no new West Nile fever cases.

“Mosquitoes are out and biting and spreading West Nile virus,” said DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “Protecting yourself is very simple and it could spare you from getting this disease.”

Humans contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. When people are infected with West Nile, the virus will affect them one of three ways. West Nile neuroinvasive disease is the most serious type, infecting the brain and spinal cord. Neuroinvasive disease can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage. The milder viral infection is West Nile fever, in which people experience flu-like symptoms. The majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.

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.

In addition, there are two new cases of chikungunya fever, and no new cases of dengue fever in Louisiana. So far this year, there have been 10 cases of chikungunya fever and one case of dengue fever. All of the Louisiana’s reported chikungunya fever and dengue fever infections took place while the individuals were outside of the United States.

The number of imported Chikungunya virus disease cases reported to CDC ArboNET as of Aug. 19 is  636 in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Six locally acquired cases have been reported in Florida.

As of August 19, a total of 43 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. Overall, 210 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC. Eleven cases were fatal. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page