BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Department of Health is advising community members to stay alert when it comes to mosquitoes and the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes and can cause illness in people and animals. While 80% of human cases are asymptomatic, many people can develop West Nile fever. A small percentage of people sickened by West Nile virus can develop a severe form of infection, which can result in hospitalization and death, according to LDH.

“We see cases of West Nile every year. It is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. But the know that we’re entering the risk period for transmission of West Nile from infected mosquitoes to humans,” said state epidemiologist Health Theresa Sokol. 

According to the Louisiana Arbovirus Summary Report on the LDH website, there has been two confirmed human cases in the state of Louisiana for 2023, with one being in East Baton Rouge Parish. 

The most recent report also states a total of 83 reported cases of West Nile in mosquito pools from parishes in the state with 22 being in Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge Parish coming in second with 18. 

Sokol said not all parishes report mosquito numbers due to it being based on different mosquito abatement districts, so the number may actually be higher. With the numbers, LDH advises the community to be careful. 

“We like to send out information just sort of a reminder to the general public that West Nile is an endemic disease. Here it is locally transmitted,” she said. 

Sokol said symptoms can include flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, muscle  weakness, disorientation, chills, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, and more. 

LDH advises Louisianans to protect themselves by wearing mosquito repellent on exposed skin, long sleeves clothing for protection, and also even helping reduce the mosquito populations by protecting your home. 

Health officials also suggests contacting local mosquito abatement districts to report mosquito problem areas. For more information click here.

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