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Louisiana reports first 6 West Nile infections of 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Six people in Louisiana have been infected by the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, including three who developed life-threatening brain and spinal cord disease, the state health department said Wednesday.

They are the state’s first reported West Nile cases of the year.

The Department of Health news release said the three with neuro-invasive disease, the most serious type of West Nile infection, were in DeSoto, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.

Neuro-invasive West Nile disease can leave the victim with brain damage and paralysis. In some cases, it is fatal.

Ouachita and East Baton Rouge parishes each reported a case of the less serious, flu-like West Nile fever. And one person in East Baton Rouge was infected with the virus but showed no symptoms. That person’s infection was discovered because of a blood donation.

The state health department and federal Centers for Disease Control websites show there were about 50 West Nile infections reported in Louisiana in 2017, with three deaths.
While some West Nile infections can lead to serious health problems, health officials say most people who are infected with West Nile show no symptoms.

The department renewed calls for people to avoid mosquito bites by using repellant, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for extended periods and avoiding perfumes and colognes when outdoors.

The release also encourages people to try to rid their property of mosquito breeding places by clearing standing water from planters, pots, buckets or other containers.