Six new cases of West Nile confirmed in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, La. -  State health officials have confirmed six new West Nile cases, but say there have been no new deaths in the past week.

So far, state health officials have reported 344 cases and 13 deaths from the disease this year, the most active for West Nile since 2002.

"While West Nile infections are beginning to decline, this has been the worst year in a decade for Louisiana," said DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "We've seen more reported cases now than in 2002. While that is due in part to our stronger surveillance and reporting processes, there continue to be new cases uncovered each week. Therefore, our message remains the same: Protect your health and Fight the Bite."

People can be affected by the West Nile 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 two new neuroinvasive disease cases reported this week, from East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

There are four new West Nile Fever cases, from Calcasieu (1), East Baton Rouge (2) and West Baton Rouge (1) parishes.

There were no new asymptomatic cases reported this week.

DHH issues a weekly Arbovirus Surveillance Report that details cases detected thus far by parish, which is published here.

West Nile virus has been present in Louisiana since 2002, when the state experienced 328 cases and 24 deaths. For 10 years, state health officials have conducted robust surveillance year-round, which includes working with doctors, hospitals and health care providers around the state to track human cases and reminding people to be vigilant in avoiding mosquito bites