The Louisiana Department of Health reported earlier this week the first death related to West Nile virus (WNV) in 2016. Due to privacy issues, WNV deaths by parish are not reported.

Culex tarsalis mosquito/CDC
Culex tarsalis mosquito/CDC

Health officials also reported six additional cases of West Nile virus in the state. This brings the total West Nile virus cases to 36.

Of the West Nile virus cases, three were asymptomatic; 12 were fever cases, a mild illness; and 21 were neuroinvasive disease, a severe illness that can lead to brain damage and death.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own. There is a more serious form of the illness, West Nile Neuroinvasive disease, which may have additional symptoms of neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill.

Through Nov. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of 1,491 cases of West Nile virus disease in humans from 47 states and the District of Columbia. 69 WNV fatalities have been reported to date.