BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Mosquitoes aren't the only thing buzzing in East Baton Rouge Parish as mosquito abatement is working overtime to control the insect population. After three human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Livingston Parish, EBR officials hope to keep the virus from spreading in Baton Rouge.
"We're working six nights a week with the trucks, and we're treating 10,600 acres three nights a week with our airplane," explained assistant director of East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement Randy Vaeth.
Parish officials say the number of mosquitos carrying West Nile virus as hit a tipping point. Vaeth reports that up to six mosquitoes per 1,000 carries the virus, and that the virus is present in about 25 percent of their testing pools.
Vaeth says historically human cases begin to show up when testing reveals those kind of numbers.
According to reports from the Department of Health and Hospitals, East Baton Rouge Parish had no human cases of the virus. However, there were 58 cases reported state wide. That number is drastically lower than 2012 when 338 cases were reported.
State health officials explain that there are three types of West Nile infections: asymptomatic, West Nile fever and neuroinvasive. Asymptomatic means there are no symptoms of the infection. Officials say most cases are asymptomatic and are usually only discovered after a blood test.
West Nile fever results in flu like symptoms including fever and aches. Neuroinvasive infections attack nerve cells and can be very severe, causing brain damage and even death. Symptoms of neuroinvasive West Nile include high fever, aches, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and disorientation.
Those susceptible to complications from infections are residents 65 and older. If you have any flu like symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.
Fortunately, protecting yourself is easy. Vaeth says the best protection is using a bug repellent that contains DEET.
Avoid activity at dusk and dawn, and cover skin as much as possible. It's also important to empty any standing water around your home to prevent mosquitos from breeding.