mosquitoShreveportThree new cases of West Nile Virus in Caddo Parish were confirmed this week.

Many people in the Shreveport-Bossier City area know little about the disease and only hear of local cases as they’re reported.  It’s important to know how it is transmitted, what are the symptoms, and who is at risk. According to the CDC, here are the facts on West Nile:

It is not contagious.

People get West Nile from mosquito bites,  and mosquitoes become infected if they bite a bird or other animal with the disease.  Person-to-person contact does not spread the disease.


You may have it and never know it.

While symptoms like swollen lymph nodes, headaches, rash, and eye irritation may be experienced, 90% of West Nile Virus cases are asymptomatic.  Many of the infected have either no illness or only mild illness, and the illness improves on its own.  However, the most serious manifestation of the virus causes fatal encephalitis.


Your chances of getting West Nile are very, very slim.

So far this year, there have been 15 confirmed cases of West Nile in all of Louisiana.  Last year, there were less than 40.  The most West Nile cases ever recorded in Louisiana in one year was in 2002 with 204 falling ill.


If you get West Nile, you probably won’t die.

While there is little treatment available and no vaccine for the virus, of the few who contract the virus less than 1% die.  By our estimations, this put the odds of someone in Shreveport contracting and dying from West Nile Virus somewhere around 1 in 30,660,000.  Considering that likelihood, there’s a better chance of getting struck by lightning than getting West Nile.


Still, don’t be dumb about it.

Even though getting West Nile is unlikely, take the right preventative measures to make sure you minimize your chances of contracting this dangerous virus. Here are some tips from the CDC:

  • Remember that mosquitoes are most active during dusk and dawn.  Avoid being outside for long periods of time at these hours.
  • If you know you’ll be outside for a while, use personal mosquito repellant that contains DEET.
  • Empty stagnate water out of birdbaths,”kiddie” pools, buckets, and barrels.  These places are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • If you feel sick, go to a doctor.  Especially for the very young and the elderly, West Nile Virus is nothing to ignore.