The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals reported two new cases of West Nile virus last week.
While the new cases were the mild viral infection form of West Nile, during which patients experience flu-like symptoms, the most serious type of the virus, known as West Nile neuroinvasive, can infect the brain and spinal cord and result in paralysis, brain damage and even death. The majority of those who contract the West Nile virus show no symptoms.
Of the 130 reported cases in Louisiana so far this year, six patients have died. Last year, Louisiana had 34 cases of the West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
West Nile is contracted by humans when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus.
"We must make sure that our families are protected from West Nile virus, especially members who may have weak immune systems because of an existing medical condition or age," State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard said.
Some precautionary measures that individuals can take to protect themselves from the West Nile virus include wearing a mosquito repellent containing DEET when outside, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for an extended period of time, ensuring that screens on their homes don't have any holes and getting rid of standing water around their home.