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Feb 5, 2012 2:19 PM by Sharlee Barriere

West Nile: It Only Takes 1 Mosquito

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Low numbers of mosquitoes won't protect you from West Nile virus, warns Louisiana's Office of Public Health.

Although drought kept the mosquito population down last year in Calcasieu Parish, two residents came down with encephalitis or meningitis from the virus, according to a report in the office's bi-monthly journal.

It said they were the parish's first cases of the uncommon but dangerous "neuroinvasive" disease since 2008.

"Even when mosquito populations are at low density, WNV is an important health concern," Christine Scott-Waldron and other researchers wrote in "Louisiana Morbidity Report." They said anyone who goes outdoors is at risk for the virus.

The report said both patients were women from the same part of Lake Charles. However, they couldn't have been infected at the same time because one became ill so much earlier than the other, it said.

The first was at least 65 years old. She died a few weeks after her first symptoms. The second was less than 30 years old. She recovered without complications, the report said.

It quotes the Calcasieu Mosquito Abatement District as saying drought kept mosquito populations below average for most of May through October.

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