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20 West Nile virus infections diagnosed this year, half with most dangerous form; none fatal

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Twenty people in Louisiana have been diagnosed with West Nile virus so far this summer, and half of them had the most dangerous form, an infection of the brain or nervous system, The state Department of Health and Hospitals said Thursday.

Two others had flu-like West Nile fever, and eight did not have any symptoms and were diagnosed through blood tests, according to a news release Thursday.

Nobody has died, department John Ford said.

The department's weekly surveillance report shows that four of the dangerous neuroinvasive cases were in Rapides Parish, two were in Ascension and one each in Jefferson Davis, St. Landry, St. Mary and St. Tammany parishes. The West Nile fever cases were in Pointe Coupee and Washington parishes.

By this time last year, 22 neuroinvasive cases had been diagnosed.

State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry says everyone more than 2 months old should wear mosquito repellent containing DEET when they go outdoors.

He says people who plan to be outside for long periods should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Last year, Louisiana saw 61 cases of the dangerous neuroinvasive disease.

Thursday's news release was the first since July 17, when the department reported the summer's first three cases.

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