Baton Rouge, LA (KMSS) — The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has reported the state's first case of West Nile Virus in a human this year.
The case was confirmed Monday, July 22, in Caldwell Parish and was determined to be a neuroinvasive disease.
Health officials say there are three types of West Nile infections: neuroinvasive, West Nile fever, and asymptomatic.
A neuroinvasive disease illness is caused by the virus attacking the nerve cells. In the elderly, it may be severe and could result in brain damage or death.
West Nile fever is less severe with most people only suffering mild flu-like symptoms.
Asymptomatic individuals are never ill and are only discovered to have West Nile in their blood when blood work is done for some other reason, such as blood donation.
About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while 10 percent will develop West Nile fever.
Only a small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease.
Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.
Louisiana residents can protect themselves, families, and homes from mosquitos that spread the virus when they bite.
Protect yourself by wearing mosquito repellant and covering your skin. You can protect your home and those around you by eliminating standing water around your home so the mosquitos don't have a place to breed.
Experts say it's a little late in the summer for the state to see its first human case of West Nile. The reason could be related to Louisiana having a cooler spring which means mosquitos didn't breed earlier in the year.
Last year, Louisiana saw 160 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease. This is down compared to 202's 204 cases.
DHH has been tracking West Nile for more than a decade and statistics about is occurrence can be found online at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/fightthebite.