12 new West Nile cases, 2 deaths in La.

Associated Press Modified: November 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm •  Published: November 10, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana health officials report 12 new West Nile virus cases in the past week and two deaths.

Of the 12 new cases, five involve serious brain or spinal cord infections that can lead to brain damage, paralysis or death. Six of the cases involve the less serious West Nile fever, which causes flu-like symptoms. One case caused no symptoms.

The latest figures bring the number of West Nile cases this year to 356, including 146 serious infections. Louisiana's death toll from West Nile this year is now 15.

Rapides Parish had two of the five new, serious cases. The others were in Allen, Avoyelles and Grant parishes.

Caddo and Rapides each had two of the six West Nile fever cases. The others were in Jefferson and LaSalle.

Bossier Parish had the case in which no symptoms were displayed. Such cases are usually detected through blood donations or other routine medical tests.

This is the worst year for West Nile infections in Louisiana since 2002, when the state reported 328 cases and 24 deaths.

Humans contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. Most infections cause no symptoms, but an infection can be deadly to some people and state officials continue to warn residents to guard against mosquito bites. Precautions urged by the state include removing standing water around homes where mosquitoes breed and using mosquito repellant.

"People should be especially vigilant if they are outside at dawn and dusk. The mosquitoes that carry West Nile are most active at that time," the state health department said in a news release. "But, people should take precautions against mosquitoes if they are outside at any time of day. "