DHH confirms 1 new case of West Nile virus

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is reporting one new West Nile case, bringing this year's total number of cases to nine.

The latest case, DHH said Friday in a news release, is a neuroinvasive disease case from Ouachita Parish. That's the most serious type of the virus, infecting the brain and spinal cord and 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.

About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with neuroinvasive disease.

Last year, Louisiana reported 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease, which is down from 2002's high of 204 neuroinvasive disease cases.

This year, Ouachita Parish has reported two cases of neuroinvasive disease and Caldwell and Calcasieu parishes each have one case of neuroinvasive disease.

Last year, Louisiana saw 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease, down from 2002's high of 204 cases.

Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist, recommends that all residents take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes. Humans contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus.

Ratard said residents, if outside, should wear mosquito repellent containing DEET and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time. Residents also should remove standing water around the home, which is where mosquitoes breed; check and clean roof gutters routinely and drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling or trash containers.

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