The number of West Nile Virus infections in Louisiana has climbed to 61 cases in 2014.
“Of those 61 infections, 32 have been considered neuroinvasive disease, so that means those 32 individuals were diagnosed with a very severe form of West Nile Virus infection. So, that’s when the virus actually invades or infects your brain or the fluids surrounding your brain,” said Tina Stefanski, regional medical director for the Office of Public Health in Acadiana.
Stefanski said even worse The Pelican State has the second highest number of the potentially deadly neuroinvasive form of the disease in the United States.
“In Lafayette Parish, last year, we had a couple of cases of neuroinvasive disease and thankfully we’ve had none this year. But that could always change at any time,” said Stefanski.
Though cases have been found just down the road.
“East Baton Rouge is probably the closest parish to us with large numbers of cases,” said Stefanski.
Following a rain event, it’s important to remember to empty out containers that could hold stagnant water like garbage lids, toys and even dog bowls.
“So, after a couple days you can get hundreds of thousands of mosquitos [and] can breed in just a little bit of standing water,” said Stefanski.
Stefanski said we are all at risk for contracting West Nile, but the elderly more frequently experience complications associated with the virus.
Stefanski couldn’t confirm where in the state, but said there have been two West Nile related deaths in Louisiana, so far, in 2014.