West Nile and Zika Virus Updates

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(Updated October 4) No mosquito samples positive for West Nile Virus have been found in Calcasieu Parish in the last 4 weeks. The last positive sample was collected on August 24th in Lake Charles. Mosquito Control will continue to monitor for West Nile Virus throughout the parish through the month of October.

(Human West Nile Virus) To date we have had 4 people become ill with West Nile Virus in Calcasieu Parish. All four were the neuro-invasive form of the virus which is a more severe form. In addition, 1 blood donor who showed no symptoms, tested positive for West Nile Virus. We typically see human cases July through September, with numbers decreasing after this time. Calcasieu Parish has not had a human West Nile Virus case since August. Citizens should try to reduce mosquito breeding habitats around homes and take precautions against mosquito bites. The virus usually affects the older population, so they should take extra precaution while outdoors when mosquitoes are active.

“We’ve been targeting areas with positive tests with ground and aerial spraying,” said Calcasieu Parish Mosquito Control Director Scott Willis. 

In nature WN virus cycles between mosquitoes (especially Culex species) and birds.  After about a week, infected mosquitoes can pass the virus to more birds when they bite.  Mosquitoes with WN virus also bite and infect people, horses and other mammals.  Most human cases of WN virus in Louisiana occur from August thru October.

Willis says, “It’s important that residents be aware of the situation and take precautions primarily around dusk in the evenings and in the early mornings when the Culex mosquito is most active. Although chances of being infected with WN virus are moderate it’s important to be aware of elevated virus activity.”  Residents should wear repellent and proper clothing and empty any containers around the house that may be full of water from recent rainfall. 

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that has become common in the United States in the last seventeen years.  There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WN virus infection.  Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms.  About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms.  Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

The Centers for Disease Control has an informative web page for West Nile information: http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

Zika Virus Update 

Zika virus has not been found in mosquitoes in Louisiana at this time. There are 26 travel related cases of Zika in Louisiana, which means travelers were infected in another country, then upon returning home started showing symptoms of Zika. Orleans Parish, being an international travel city, has the highest number of cases (11) and is actively on alert with their control efforts. Eight other Parishes have travel related cases. Over half of the 26 cases come from Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Female cases are more prevalent than males as 18 of the positive are female and 8 are male.