West Nile Virus Back in Acadiana for First Time Since 2018
There was a time when the West Nile Virus had Louisiana residents very concerned every time they saw a mosquito.
I remember in the early 2000's when I was playing football in high school that we were very mindful of mosquitoes and how a bite could potentially bring on the West Nile Virus or some other nasty disease that these insects carry. Even when the practice fields were sprayed, many of us still became a little nervous every time we heard a certain buzz.
Like I have, some of you probably are wondering "What purpose do mosquitoes serve?" Well, they may be annoying pests but they are very important in the ecological food chain as they serve as food for fish and for birds. That's according to smithsosonianmag.com, who also points out that some species are important pollinators as well.
Back to West Nile Disease. The neuroinvasive version of it is the most serious. It can lead to death, paralysis and even brain damage. Four years ago, the concern was very high across the state of Louisiana as the Bayou State had the highest rate of the virus in the U.S. 2018 was also the last time that the disease was reported in Acadiana.
Well, the Louisiana Department of Health is confirming one human case of the potentially fatal disease in the Acadiana region this season. Statewide, 14 cases of the neuroinvasive viral disease have turned up. Two people have died.
“This is shaping up to be a very challenging West Nile season and we are entering the peak time for transmission in our state,” said Region 4 Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanksi in the LDH article. “That is why it is so important for residents to please remember to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites whenever you are participating in outdoor activities.”
Fortunately, LDH says 80% of human cases are asymptomatic but West Nile Virus still causes some nasty health issues, if it doesn't kill you.
- Body aches
- or Rashes
The following are tips provided by LDH to protect yourself against the West Nile Virus and mosquitoes in general:
- If you will be outside, you should wear EPA-registered approved mosquito repellent and always follow product label instructions.
- Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing, but do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- To protect yourself from being exposed to mosquitos while indoors, make sure that windows and doors are tight-fitting, and that all screens are free of holes.
- Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.
- Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property that may collect water. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children's toys or anything that could collect water.
- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. If a recycling container has holes on the sides, there is still room for the container to collect water for mosquitoes to breed, so holes should be added on the bottom if not already present.
- Check and clean roof gutters routinely. Clogged gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
- Water gardens and ornamental pools can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate. Take steps to prevent stagnation, such as adding fish or aeration.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a little as a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.
- Contact local mosquito abatement districts to report problem mosquito areas.