West Nile Virus cases on the rise

New Orleans, LA -- There's a dramatic increase in West Nile virus cases in Louisiana.

Debrah LeJeune worries as the weather gets hotter.

She's lost three friends to the West Nile virus, including a friend's 18-month old baby.

"A friend of mine's daughter was bit and she died when she was only 18 months old. She acquired meningitis and a few days running a high fever and they brought her to the hospital and she died within 24 hours," says Kenner Resident, Deborah LeJeune.

The hot temperatures may be having a major impact on the spread of West Nile Virus across the metro area.

Louisiana's State Epidemiologist, Doctor Raoult Ratard wants everyone to be mosquito aware.

"The worst time is August until mid-September. So when you have a mild winter and a warm spring, the birds are laying their nests in the treetop, you have the mosquitoes that because it's warm they multiply fairly fast," says Dr. Ratard.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is reporting a dramatic up-tick of human cases.

DHH confirms 15 new cases and new four deaths from the disease.

So far this year, six people have died from the virus, and DHH has detected 68 cases.

More than half of this year's cases are West Nile neuro-invasive disease, the more serious form of the virus that infects the brain and spinal cord and can cause brain damage or death.

This is the highest total of West Nile neuro-invasive infections that have occurred in the state since 2006.

"Ten percent of neuro invasive die. Another 10-percent will have neurological damage, and it might take 5 to 10 years to recover," says Dr. Ratard.

"I'm staying in dust and dawn. I'm hoping that our citizens especially of Jefferson and Kenner take aggressive action to empty all their planters, any buckets, their boats, anything that can contain water," says LeJeune.

To learn more about the West Nile Virus visit the Department of Health and Hospitals website.