West Nile in Louisiana: Should You be Worried?
Time to start thinking about West Nile Virus. So far this year, there have been 2 deaths from the disease and 14 cases. There are two types of West Nile: neuroinvasive and non-neuroinvasive. Neuroinvasive includes cases reported as meningitis or encephalitis. All cases in Louisiana this year have been neuroinvasive. The virus is spread by mosquitos and you are urged to get rid of all standing water around your home.
The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has reported the first human case of the potentially deadly neuroinvasive West Nile disease since 2018 in Acadiana. Iberia Parish Mosquito Control official Herff Jones said:
“This is not a surprise. West Nile virus and its related cousins, the other encephalitis viruses, are endemic to Louisiana and to the United States. Meaning that they are a part of our biological and ecological systems where we live for good.”
Although for the most part, West Nile virus isn't deadly, a small percentage of people can develop a severe form of infection called West Nile neuroinvasive disease or West Nile encephalitis, which can result in hospitalization and death. For those few, symptoms can include high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, numbness, coma and paralysis. These symptoms can last several from several days to several weeks and could possibly carry the risk of death or permanent brain damage. While anyone is at risk of developing severe disease, there are individuals at a higher risk for developing severe symptoms. This includes those with pre-existing medical conditions and those who are over 60 years of age are at a greater risk.
There are several things you can do to help prevent, or at least lessen your risk of exposure to mosquitoes. While you're outside, wear EPA-registered approved mosquito repellent. Also, make sure to apply the repellent on your skin AND your clothing. Anther way to help eliminate mosquitoes is to make sure there is no standing water around your property. Standing water is a major source of breeding grounds. Make sure to rid your property of ceramic pots, toys, wading pools, buckets, and trash cans that hold water. Check and clean your roof gutters regularly. Millions of mosquitoes can eminate from clogged gutters. Even high grass or over-grown vegetation can be a breeding ground.
You can protect yourself while inside by making sure windows and doors are tight-fitting, and your screens are secure and free of any tears or holes.
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