October 2013 Update on the West Nile Virus in Louisiana

October 15, 2013By

The week of October 15th, 2013 saw three more confirmed cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Louisiana, bringing the state’s total number of cases for 2013 up to 48. One of these latest confirmed infections includes a case of neuroinvasive disease.

Typical Mosquito Bite

 In order to understand just how dramatic this spread of WNV is in Louisiana, it is important to understand the virus. Here is some background information on West Nile and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile is a type of virus that is most commonly transmitted among humans by mosquito bites. Mosquitos are carriers for the virus, spreading it from person to person, as they stop to feed. For those that do contract the virus, there are three different ways in which the illness can manifest.

The Center for Disease Control explains the three different ways the infection can develop:

  • 4/5th of the people who are infected will show no symptoms. The only way that it is ever detected that these individuals have the illness is through blood tests.
  • Roughly 1/5th of the people who are infected with WNV will show flu-like symptoms. This version of the illness is referred to as West Nile Fever. This type of West Nile Virus is considered particularly dangerous for the elderly, young children and anyone with a compromised immune system.
  • Less than one percent of those who are infected with WNV will develop neuroinvasive disease. This is a very serious, sometimes fatal neurologic illness.

Bastrop Enterprise, the company who confirmed the three new cases, explains that neuroinvasive disease infects the brain and the spinal cord. Individuals with this type of infection can experience paralysis, brain damage and the viral infection can be fatal.

Louisiana’s History of West Nile Virus

As Bastrop Enterprise reports, 2002 was a record high year for West Nile cases in Louisiana. In 2002, there were 204 reported cases of neuroinvasive disease alone. 2012 nearly rivaled this number with 160 reported cases of the viral infection.

This year, there have been numerous cases of the West Nile Virus in Louisiana, including multiple occurrences of neuroinvasive disease. As of October, the following parishes have reported neuroinvasive cases:

  • Ouachita Parish with 13 cases
  • Lafayette Parish with 7 cases
  • Caldwell Parish with 3 cases
  • Rapides Parish with 3 cases
  • Calcasieu Parish with 1 case
  • Livingston Parish with 1 case
  • St. Tammany Parish with 1 case

The three most recent cases of WNV were confirmed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. They included the previously mentioned neuroinvasive case, which occurred in Lafayette. The other two cases were West Nile Fever and occurred in Ouachita and Morehouse. The state of Louisiana has reported two West Nile virus deaths in 2013.

Protecting Yourself from West Nile Virus

The best way to reduce your risk of infection is to protect yourself against mosquito bites. There are many different ways that you can do this, including:

  • Protecting your bedroom and other living areas with mosquito netting
  • Eliminating sources of standing water around your home
  • Treating standing water with environmentally friendly pest control products
  • Wearing protective clothing that reduces the amount of exposed skin
  • Avoiding perfumes and colognes, as these can attract mosquitos
  • Reducing time spent outdoors around dawn and dusk, which are peak times of activity for mosquitos
  • Wearing mosquito repellent, following the safety instructions carefully

Considering the very real presence of the West Nile Virus in Louisiana, it is vital to stop thinking of mosquitoes as being just like any other pest. If you are not sure how you can better protect your home or business from mosquitos, consult with the Louisiana pest specialists at Fischer Environmental as soon as possible.

Click here to read more about our mosquito control services.

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