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Jul 15, 2010 8:51 PM

DHH confirms 1st 2010 case of West Nile in state

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has reported the state's first case of West Nile virus in a human this year.

The case was confirmed Wednesday in East Baton Rouge Parish. It was in an asymptomatic person someone who showed no signs of illness but was discovered to have the virus in their blood when lab work was done for some other reason, such as blood donation.

About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever, where people suffer mild, flu-like symptoms. The most serious infection is described as neuroinvasive, which typically results in swelling of the brain or spinal cord and puts victims at risk of brain damage or death.

State epidemiologist, Dr. Raoult Ratard, says west nile virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites. He says the first human cases often are reported around mid-July each year. He's urging state residents to protect themselves against mosquito and to discard or turn over objects that collect water where mosquitoes can breed.

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