Parish President Guy Cormier says the detection of the potentially deadly virus in trapped mosquitoes and sentinel chickens had already triggered an aggressive insecticide spraying program.
The victim in the St. Martin case, who has presented with neuroinvasive disease, has not been officially identified, but sources say he is a young boy.
Cormier reminded the Parish Council Tuesday that just because someone who lives here has West Nile doesn’t mean the person was bitten by a mosquito here. By the same token, some of the suspected cases in Lafayette Parish (two with fever only and one with asymptomatic infection), Iberia Parish (one with asymptomatic infection) or elsewhere might have been bitten here.
“(West Nile) is not just here, and not just in Louisiana,” Cormier said. “It has been a problem this year all over the nation.”
The Office of Public Health, which is under the Louisiana Department of Heath and Hospitals, is reporting 281 human West Nile infections have been identified, including 41 asymptomatic cases mostly identified through the screening of blood donors. Of the 240 West Nile cases with symptoms, 118 are classified as having neuroinvasive disease, which is the most severe form of the disease, and 122 are classified as relatively mild fever-only cases.
As always, health officials recommend applying mosquito repellent containing DEET (although not on infants younger than two months and containing no more than 30 percent DEET on older children). Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors, and avoid perfumes or colognes.
Even better is to stay indoors at dawn and dusk, when the mosquitoes that carry West Nile are most active.
Cityfolk are advised to drain stagnant water from around homes and property to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and swarming, but as Cormier has said repeatedly, not much in that regard can be done when you live near a swamp.