West Nile virus discovered in New Orleans_lowres


Louisiana has seven new cases of the West Nile virus, double the number reported last week, state health officials said Monday.

Five of those new cases were discovered in East Baton Rouge, Ascension, St. Landry and St. Tammany parishes and four of those are the severe neuroinvasive variety that attacks the central nervous system and is deadly in 10 percent of the cases, new state and federal health data say.

State health officials provided the new data after Ascension Parish officials announced Monday morning that a St. Amant resident had fallen victim to neuroinvasive West Nile virus, and they asked residents to reduce areas of standing water.

The case is the first this year in Ascension Parish of any variety of the West Nile virus and the first neuroinvasive variety in the parish since 2015, according to federal health data.

“Mosquito control is a community-wide effort,” Parish President Kenny Matassa said in a news release Monday. “We are asking our residents to use common sense practices in helping us in fighting this annual problem.”

David Matassa, Ascension's mosquito control director, said old pots, open containers or tires that collect rainwater can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Ascension Parish's Mosquito Control Department sprayed the area in St. Amant after the reported case, parish officials said.

A spokesman for the state Health Department said the infected St. Amant resident's age, sex and medical condition could not be provided due to privacy laws.

Most people who contract West Nile will have no symptoms. But the far rarer neuroinvasive variety of West Nile can affect the brain and spinal cord and, in some cases, lead to brain damage, paralysis or death, the state Department of Health says.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one in 150 who are infected with West Nile develop the neuroinvasive version. Recovery from neuroinvasive West Nile virus can take weeks to months even when permanent effects are avoided.

In about one in five cases, infected people get less severe West Nile fever and have flu-like symptoms, including a fever, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting, the CDC says.

Last week, the state Department of Health reported the first six cases this year of human West Nile virus in DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ouachita and St. Tammany parishes. In all, there are seven neuroinvasive cases this year and 13 cases overall in the state, nearly double the total last year at this time, according federal data.

The seven new cases were reported between July 7 and 14, according to the new CDC data.

East Baton Rouge had two cases in the first round of reporting publicized last week and two more cases disclosed Monday, though none of those in East Baton Rouge is neuroinvasive.

St. Tammany, which also had a neuroinvasive case reported previously, added another in the latest round of data, as did St. Landry Parish for the first time this year.

Caddo Parish in north Louisiana also had its first two cases this year, according to the latest data, including one neuroinvasive case. Previously reported cases in Livingston and DeSoto parishes were also neuroinvasive.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.