Alexandria Man Dies From West Nile Virus
What a soggy, sticky weekend we had in the Ark-La-Tex. My wife and I visited family in Tyler over the weekend, and on the way there on Friday, we had to pull off of I-20 because it was raining so hard. We found a parking spot in front of a convenience store that was about 10 feet from the door. When we got inside the store we looked like we’d taken the ice bucket challenge.
August is normally the driest month of the year in Shreveport with a rainfall average of 2.71 inches. If the rain keeps up like it has for the past few days, we’ll be well over that amount. And that doesn’t bode well for West Nile Virus season.
West Nile virus is spread by the common household mosquito. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Once the eggs hatch, the emerging wigglers feed on organic matter in the water and breathe oxygen at the surface. The whole process from egg to adult mosquito takes about 10 days.
According to the Office Of Public Health (OPH) there have been 19 cases of West Nile reported so far this season which runs from summer through fall. In an interview with the Louisiana Radio Network, Dr. David Holcombe of the OPH said that the season is starting a little early this year.
A 71-year-old man in Alexandria died from the West Nile Virus this past week. Mr. David Austin had been sick for about two weeks and passed away last Tuesday. Mr. Austin’s family said that they thought he had the flu.
Holcombe says that 90% of people who contract the virus don’t even know they have it because they never manifest symptoms. Those that do show symptoms get a low fever. Only 1% of those infected get a severe enough infection for it to be potentially deadly. Those most at risk of getting sick from West Nile are people 50 and over.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your family? Holcombe advises eliminating any standing water from around your home and property. Mow your yard and keep it free of debris. Wear long sleeves and DEET if you’re going to be outside for any length of time.