Louisiana reports first human West Nile virus cases for 2019

The Louisiana Department of Health today reported the first human cases of West Nile virus for this year on Aug. 20. These initial cases are listed in this year’s first weekly Arboviral Report and shows nine WNV infections, distributed as follows:

Five cases of neuroinvasive disease: two cases in Washington Parish and one case each in St. Tammany, East Baton Rouge, and Livingston parishes
Two cases of West Nile fever: one case each in East Baton Rouge and Washington parishes

Two asymptomatic cases: both cases, one in Caddo Parish and one in Washington Parish, were diagnosed because of a blood donation

West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease – This is the most serious type, infecting the brain and spinal cord. Neuroinvasive disease can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage.

West Nile Fever – A milder viral infection in which people experience flu-like symptoms.

Asymptomatic – The majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.

In comparison, the Department reported 53 West Nile virus cases at this time last year.

Each week, the Department will update and post the Arboviral Report with more detailed information about West Nile virus infections in Louisiana. The reports are available here.

For information about mosquitos and the dangers they pose to horses, see this news from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture.

Protect Yourself for Mosquitos

If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than two months. CDC recommends that you always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.

Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
To apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.

Adults should always apply repellent to children.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.

Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Grounds

Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.

Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children’s toys or anything that could collect water. Be sure to empty these containers each week.
Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed.

Check and clean roof gutters routinely. They are often overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.

One thought on “Louisiana reports first human West Nile virus cases for 2019

  1. Thanks for publishing these reminders. If everyone eliminated standing water in their yards, mosquito breeding would fall dramatically. Does the parish have a spraying program? That would further eliminate the problem.

    Bats are great bug-eaters, and they love mosquitoes. The NPJ should publish a story about the benefits of bats, including how much they pollinate. Their sonar keeps them from interacting with people, so there’s no reason to be afraid of them. They pretty much keep to themselves, and it’s easy to provide a space for them in your garden.

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