11 new West Nile cases, 1 death in La. - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

11 new West Nile cases, 1 death in La.

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State health officials report 11 new cases of West Nile virus this week, with one additional West Nile-related death.

That brings the total number of West Nile cases in Louisiana this year to 382, with a death toll of 17.

Most people bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus show no symptoms, but some develop flu-like West Nile fever, and a few develop serious "neuroinvasive" infections of the brain or spinal cord that can lead to paralysis, brain damage or death.

Four new neuroinvasive disease cases reported this week were in Bossier, Calcasieu, St. Helena and Winn parishes. Five West Nile fever cases were in Bossier, Cameron, Concordia, East Feliciana and Orleans parishes.

Two asymptomatic cases were in Grant and Pointe Coupee parishes. Such cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.

This is the worst year for West Nile infections in Louisiana since 2002, when the state reported 328 cases and 24 deaths.

"People expect to see West Nile cases slow down because we've started having subfreezing temperatures," Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said in the state's weekly report on the virus. However, he said mosquitoes can hide in culverts or other sheltered areas, then reemerge in warmer weather.

"We've seen a lot of fluctuating weather around Louisiana, where it's cold one day and warm the next, so West Nile is still a health threat," he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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