What's Going Around: West Nile virus, Zika concerns, no more Flu - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

What's Going Around: West Nile virus, Zika concerns, no more FluMist

West Nile virus cases are being reported at their highest level since 2009 in Calcasieu Parish. (Source: KPLC) West Nile virus cases are being reported at their highest level since 2009 in Calcasieu Parish. (Source: KPLC)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A new round of warnings this week to protect yourself from mosquitoes. West Nile virus is What's Going Around and there are concerns about the spread of Zika as another case is confirmed in Louisiana.

Calcasieu Parish Mosquito Control officials say West Nile virus activity is at its highest level in seven years and we are just entering the peak of mosquito season.

CHRISTUS St.Patrick Hospital infectious disease physician, Dr. Tim Haman, says of the four confirmed cases of the virus in Calcasieu Parish over the past two weeks, he has treated three of those patients.

"We've seen a few West Nile patients here locally and we've seen a couple of fairly severe cases," said Dr. Haman.  "The issue that we're having and we're going to continue to have over the next few weeks with the heavy rain is that the mosquito population is really exploding right now."

Mosquito Control confirms 55 positive mosquito pool tests in the last 12 weeks and that could grow as peak season lasts through October. 

Dr. Haman says most of those infected with West Nile virus do not have symptoms.

"A smaller percentage will have some kind of mild symptoms, fever, muscle ache, almost feel like you have the flu," he said. "Then an incredibly small percentage, around one percent, will have a very severe infection with headaches and meningitis-type symptoms."

Definitely see a doctor if you are worried you might be infected.  

Another mosquito-borne illness concern this week: Zika virus, with 27 cases now reported in Louisiana.

"The only cases that have been identified in Louisiana were people that traveled to areas where Zika virus is found and then traveled back here or had sexual contact with someone who had Zika," said Dr. Haman.

From mosquito season to flu season, we are just days away from the release of this year's flu vaccine.  Dr. Haman says you will notice some changes this year in the way the flu vaccine is administered in children.

"The CDC has actually recommended that we not use the live nasal vaccine in kids because it has been found to be less effective," he said.  "They're actually switching to the injectable flu vaccine for everybody."

Doctors offices and pharmacies will begin offering the injectable vaccines this month. Dr. Haman says if you are flu shot shy, it is important to remember the flu shot cannot give you the flu.

"Some people will get a brief immunologic reaction after you get the vaccine.  You may have some fever, some muscle aches.  That's a good sign, that's a sign that your immune system can function and is reacting to the vaccine, but it's not the flu," said Dr. Haman.

Flu prevention starts with the vaccine and follows with good hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette.  For the mosquito-borne illnesses, use repellent when outside and try to eliminate areas of standing water.

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