Protect yourself from West Nile virus
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed the state’s first West Nile Virus deaths in four years.
Two people have died of neuroinvasive disease (NID), the most serious form of the virus, this year. These deaths are the state’s first since 2008, when one person died of the disease. Since there has been a recent sharp increase in NID cases, DHH is now reporting total West Nile Virus deaths as part of its weekly surveillance report.
“West Nile Virus is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly,” said DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Ratard. “We know from the past 10 years of surveillance that this disease has reached every corner of the state, meaning people are at risk for West Nile regardless of whether there are cases and deaths in your parish. People should own their own health and take responsibility to make all the necessary precautions that protect you and your loved ones from mosquito bites.”
The elderly are at particular risk for severe disease and death from West Nile Virus, but all individuals should take precautions against mosquito bites. Although mosquito control partners and abatement districts remain vigilant in keeping the population of infected mosquitoes under control, everyone has a personal responsibility to prevent infection by avoiding mosquito bites.
The DHH offers the following tips to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
• If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30 percent DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.
• Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
• To apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.
• Adults should always apply repellent to children.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
• Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
• Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.
At home, you can control the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed. Also, you should clean clogged roof gutters yearly. They are often overlooked, but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
To learn more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the deadly West Nile virus, visit DHH’s website at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.
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