Louisiana health official warns of West Nile virus

Baton Rouge braces for West Nile Virus
Baton Rouge braces for West Nile Virus | Courtesy of
Officials from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) recently released a statement encouraging Louisiana residents to prepare for West Nile virus as summer approaches.

Southern residents need to be cautious and take proactive steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus, which is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Louisiana has seen significant rainfall this April, so one of the first things residents can do is rid their homes and properties of stagnant water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

West Nile virus manifests in its victims in three ways, the worst being neuroinvasive disease. This strain of the virus infects a person’s spinal cord and brain, which leads to paralysis, brain damage and even death. A small percentage of people contract this infection.

A milder form of the virus is West Nile fever. People with this fever show flu-like symptoms, and 10 percent of people with West Nile have this form of the infection.

Most people with West Nile virus do not show any symptoms. In this case, the patients are only found when they have routine medical tests or donate blood. Almost 90 percent of West Nile virus cases do not show any symptoms.

"All this seasonal heavy rain leads to standing water in small containers around the home, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos that may be infected with West Nile," DHH State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard said. "It's important to check for standing water in buckets, swimming pool covers and anywhere else that could cause a problem."

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Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

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