While Isaac did not leave behind a big path of destruction in our part of the state, the rain that we received is enough to potentially worsen a deadly problem. We look into the factors that could cause the incidence of West Nile virus cases to increase even more in the aftermath of Isaac.
Mosquitoes love the rain and Isaac dumped enough across the state to fill up ditches, create more areas of standing water and in effect, lay the groundwork for even more breeding grounds for these insects.
The Centers for Disease Control has reported nearly 1,600 cases of West Nile virus - more than half are in Texas and 145 are in Louisiana. That is a number concerning to West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital Infection Control Coordinator, Amanda Bryant. "145 cases of the disease and nine deaths reported so far," said Bryant.
Nine deaths just this year in Louisiana from a virus that typically does not present with alarming symptoms. "Normally, the patient will experience fever, fatigue, a general headache, but mainly just the weakness," said Bryant.
Now, with more standing water left behind by Isaac, the mosquito population is only expected to continue to grow. "That could potentially breed more mosquitoes and then give us that higher risk of the infestation," said Bryant.
West Nile virus can be contracted year-round from infected mosquitoes, but is typically a late summer disease. Health experts say that is what makes this year's outbreak so alarming, with a full month left until we can see the mosquito population taper off.
No doubt that you have heard the prevention advice time and time again! To lower your risk for contracting West Nile virus, eliminate standing water, wear a mosquito repellant with "deet" and limit time outdoors at dawn and dusk.