State reports 17 new cases of West Nile, 1 death

Baton Rouge, La. - State health officials confirm 17 new cases of West Nile, including one new death.  The state released the new weekly numbers Friday afternoon, as state officials continue to track what has been the most active year for West Nile since 2002. So far for 2012, there have been 338 cases and 13 deaths in Louisiana.

"We keep hearing comments like 'West Nile is slowing down,' but the real message is 'West Nile is still a health threat,'" said Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "It may be getting later in the year, but we are still seeing new cases, and we continue to have parishes report their first human cases of West Nile. If you can still be bitten by mosquitoes, you can still get West Nile. Protect your health and Fight the Bite."

People contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. The virus can affect them in 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.

There are five new neuroinvasive disease cases reported this week, with one each reported from Bossier, Calcasieu, Jefferson, Orleans and West Feliciana parishes.

There are 11 new West Nile Fever cases, from Ascension (1), Beauregard (1), Caddo (2), Calcasieu (1), DeSoto (1), East Baton Rouge (4) and Lafourche (1).

There was one new asymptomatic case reported this week, from Lafourche Parish.