NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The West Nile virus continues to infect and kill people in the worst year for the disease in Louisiana since 2002.
Everyone needs to keep fighting mosquitoes, state health officials say.
“We keep hearing comments like ‘West Nile is slowing down,’ but the real message is ‘West Nile is still a health threat,’” Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said Friday. “It may be getting later in the year, but we are still seeing new cases, and we continue to have parishes report their first human cases of West Nile.
“If you can still be bitten by mosquitoes, you can still get West Nile.”
A news release says 139 people have come down with life-threatening neuroinvasive disease affecting the brain or spinal column, and at least 13 of them have died. That compares to 24 deaths and 204 cases of encephalitis or meningitis in 2002.
The 17 new cases reported Friday include five neuroinvasive cases, 11 of fever and one without symptoms, who had blood tested for donation.
Nationwide, doctors have reported 4,725 cases, 2,413 of them neuroinvasive, and 219 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than one-third of the cases were in Texas, and nearly 70 percent of the cases were in eight states — Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan, and Oklahoma.
Louisiana’s total so far this year is 338. The number in 2002 was 328, but the totals aren’t a good comparison because far more people with mild disease or none at all are now being tested, Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist, says.
The state lab was the only one in Louisiana testing for the virus in 2002, and blood donors weren’t being tested, he said. Since the blood test is much cheaper now than in 2002 and is available at many labs, people with mild symptoms are getting tested, too, Ratard adds.
This year’s 338 cases include 43 people who had no symptoms and 156 with West Nile fever. The 2002 totals included 124 people with West Nile fever and none without symptoms.
“If you’re going to measure things, you never measure with a rubber band,” Ratard says. “You measure with a hard ruler. Neuroinvasive disease — that’s a hard ruler.”
That’s because people with symptoms such as high fever, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis will go to their doctor or an emergency room, and be hospitalized.
The percentage of deaths among patients with neuroinvasive diseases is down slightly from 2002 — 9.3 percent compared to 11.7 percent — but Ratard notes that’s just chance.
About 10 percent of all encephalitis and meningitis patients die, he says. “The only real treatment is to start early and prevent brain swelling.”
To keep mosquitoes away from your house, make sure that even small outdoor containers have drainage holes on the bottom, and pick up tin cans, bottle tops and anything else that could hold stagnant water, and clean roof gutters yearly.
To keep them out of homes, make sure that doors and windows fit tightly and have screens without holes.
To keep from getting bitten outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially at dawn and dusk, and use repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothes.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.