THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Louisiana reports first West Nile virus cases of 2014

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported on Tuesday its first cases of West Nile virus of the year.

All three of the cases were reported in Livingston Parish and were asymptomatic, meaning those infected were unaware until they gave blood or were tested.

"These three infections serve as reminders that West Nile virus is here and all residents are at risk," Louisiana State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard said. "Everyone should take simple steps to protect themselves, their families and their homes from mosquitoes, which spread West Nile virus to humans when they bite. Protection is as simple as wearing mosquito repellant and covering your skin. You can also prevent mosquitoes from reproducing by dumping standing water from containers around your home."

Louisiana recorded 34 cases of West Nile virus in 2013. The year with the highest amount of West Nile cases in Louisiana was 2002, when 204 people were diagnosed with the disease.

Approximately 90 percent of West Nile cases are asymptomatic, with approximately 10 percent developing West Nile fever. Only a very small number of those infected with West Nile virus exhibit serious symptoms of the neuroinvasive disease.

People 65 and older are at a higher risk of complications from West Nile virus.