Louisiana confirms five new cases of West Nile virus

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals confirmed five new cases of West Nile virus on Friday, increasing the total number of cases of the mosquito-borne pathogen to 39.

The five new infections include three cases of neuroinvasive disease, with one case each from Rapides, Lafayette and Caldwell parishes. While 90 percent of all West Nile virus cases are asymptomatic, approximately 10 percent develop West Nile fever and a small number of infected individuals express the serious symptoms of the neuroinvasive disease. Neuroinvasive disease can result in brain damage, paralysis and death.

In 2013, Ouachita Parish reported 10 cases of neuroinvasive disease and Lafayette Parish reported five cases of neuroinvasive disease. There were three neuroinvasive disease cases reported in both Caldwell and Rapides parishes and one case of neuroinvasive disease each in St. Tammany, Livingston and Calcasieu parishes.

The state of Louisiana reported one death from West Nile virus so far this year.

In 2012, Louisiana reported 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease. The state had 204 cases of the neuroinvasive disease in 2002.

Raoult Ratard, the DHH state epidemiologist, recommended that Louisiana citizens protect themselves by wearing a mosquito repellent containing DEET, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time and make sure that their houses have tight-fitting windows and doors. Louisiana residents should also eliminate standing water around the home to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.