Eight new cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, La. - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is reporting eight new West Nile cases this week, bringing this year's total number of cases to 21.

This week's new infections include four cases of neuroinvasive disease, one each from Caldwell, Lafayette, Ouachita and Rapides parishes and four cases of West Nile fever, with two cases from Lafayette parish and one each from Calcasieu and Ouachita.

Humans contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. When people are infected with West Nile, the virus will affect them 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.