THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Louisiana records 4th West Nile virus death this year

Louisiana has recorded its fourth death from West Nile virus this year, and four additional cases were confirmed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Friday.

The DHH has received a total of 55 reports of West Nile virus this year, including two cases that include neuroinvasive disease and two cases that include West Nile fever.

Yhe state recorded 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease last year. The state's highest number of cases over the last decade came in 2002, when 204 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease were reported.

The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, typically manifests itself in one of three ways.

Neuroinvasive West Nile virus, the most serious, affects the brain and spinal chord and can cause paralysis, brain damage and death. West Nile fever, which is milder, causes flu-like symptoms. The majority of people who contract West Nile virus, however, do not demonstrate symptoms, and cases are usually detected by routine blood tests.

Approximately 90 percent of cases are asymptomatic, and 10 percent of cases result in West Nile fever. A small fraction of infected individuals experience neuroinvasive disease.

Individuals who are older than 65 years old are at an increased risk for infection, but all individuals are susceptible.