Second West Nile virus death confirmed in Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced on Friday that it has confirmed a second West Nile virus death in the state.

The second death, reported in Ouachita Parish, follows one in Rapides Parish reported earlier this year.

The DHH also released information about six new cases of West Nile virus, bringing the year's total to 45 cases. Among the six cases, there are four cases of neuroinvasive disease, with three from Ouachita Parish and one from Lafayette parish. There are also two cases of West Nile fever, with one case each from St. Landry and St. Martin parishes.

Last year, there were 160 reported cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease in Louisiana, which was down from 2002's record of 204 cases.

Humans are infected with West Nile virus by infected mosquitoes. The virus is known to affect humans in one of three ways. West Nile neuroinvasive disease is the most deadly case, sometimes infecting the brain and spinal cord. There is also a milder infection known as West Nile fever, where people experience flu-like symptoms. Most people who contract WNV are asymptomatic, however, and show no symptoms.

The DHH recommends that all people take precautions and protect themselves from contracting West Nile virus. Wearing mosquito repellent when outside, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying inside during the peak mosquito hours of dusk and dawn are all recommended.