The state health department reports only a handful of human West Nile virus cases, only 12 this year compared to 79 at this time last year. State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard says heavy rainfall this past spring may have helped reduce the mosquito population.
“It’s really going to depend in the future about what’s going on with the temperature. With the rain, if there is too much rain, it washes the sites away and it is not very good for the mosquitos,” said Ratard.
Ratard says regardless of a year’s infection rate, it is important to always safeguard yourself and other from mosquitos, because it takes just one bite to make it a bad West Nile season for you.
“The risk is all over the state starting in June or July and it goes all the way through October or November,” said Ratard.
West Nile infections are divided into three categories with the first being asymptomatic, the second being a flu-like West Nile fever which accounts for three cases this year, and the third is a dangerous neuroinvasive infection of the brain and spinal cord which accounts for six cases. Ratard says if you think you may have been infected, seek medical attention immediately.
“Ten percent die from their complication, another ten percent will have a permanent injury, so you have to be careful. It doesn’t matter if it is a high season or a low season,” said Ratard.