A 70-year-old Slidell man who was diagnosed with West Nile virus on Sept. 14 died Thursday morning, according to St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston.

The patient had been admitted to a local hospital on Sept. 7 with signs of a stroke. His cause of death, however, was the virus and an end-stage stroke, according to the coroner.

Preston said it was not possible to determine if the two conditions were related, but the patient had the neuroinvasive form of West Nile, which affects the central nervous system.

Preston said the death is the first West Nile-related fatality in the parish this year.

Olivia Watkins Hwang, communications director for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said there have been two West Nile deaths in Louisiana this year, one in the Baton Rouge area and the other in Acadiana. The St. Tammany death has not yet been confirmed as a West Nile death by DHH.

As of Sept. 26, there were 54 reported cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana, 33 of which were neuroinvasive, seven with a flu-like West Nile fever and 14 asymptomatic cases, a DHH report said.

Preston talked to Parish President Pat Brister on Thursday about the need to continue prevention efforts, which include not only spraying aerial and ground areas for mosquitoes but also encouraging residents to take precautions, such as using insect repellent containing DEET and wearing long sleeves and pants, especially at dusk and dawn.

Those at higher risk for serious complications from West Nile virus include the very old, the very young and those with compromised immune systems, such as people undergoing chemotherapy. For those people, avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk is advisable, Preston said.

“While fall weather is upon us, mosquitoes are virtually a year-round problem in south Louisiana,’’ he said.

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