DHH Confirms Two West Nile Virus Deaths - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

DHH Confirms Two West Nile Virus Deaths

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BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) recently confirmed the state's first West Nile Virus deaths in four years.

So far this year, two people have died of neuroinvasive disease (NID), the most serious form of the virus. These deaths are the state's first since 2008, when one person died of the disease.

Since there has been a recent sharp increase in NID cases, DHH is now reporting total West Nile Virus deaths as part of its weekly surveillance report.

"West Nile Virus is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly," said Dr. Ratard, the DHH state epidemiologist. "We know from the past 10 years of surveillance that this disease has reached every corner of the state, meaning people are at risk for West Nile regardless of whether there are cases and deaths in your parish. People should own their own health and take responsibility to make all the necessary precautions that protect you and your loved ones from mosquito bites."

Recently, DHH reported 21 new West Nile Virus infections, bringing this year's total to 53. The number of NID cases sharply increased from 16 last week to 29 last week. This number is the highest experienced at this point in the West Nile Virus season since 2002, the state's outbreak year that had 204 NID cases and 24 deaths. This week's new infections include 13 cases of the more serious NID.

The new NID cases were reported from Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Natchitoches, Orleans, Rapides, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes. There were also new West Nile Fever cases in Jefferson, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes and new asymptomatic cases in East Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Lincoln parishes.

This year, St. Tammany Parish has reported the most West Nile Virus infections with six NID, two fever cases and one asymptomatic. East Baton Rouge Parish has reported five NID, two fever cases and one asymptomatic, and Tangipahoa parish has three NID, two fever cases and three asymptomatic.

Protect Yourself

  • If outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30 percent DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 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.

Mosquito Population Control

  • 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 or buckets that could collect water.
  • 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.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters yearly. 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 that goes on vacation 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.

To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.

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