The Department of Health today reported 12 new cases of West Nile virus, raising the 2004 case count to 101 human infections.

The new human cases were reported from Bossier (1), East Baton Rouge (4), East Feliciana (1), Franklin (1), St. Landry (2) and Rapides (3) parishes. No new deaths from West Nile were reported.

This week’s case total raises the 2004 case count to the same as last year’s case count at this time. As of the first week of November 2003, LDH had reported 101 cases. There were only three deaths at this time last year; this year, there have been seven West Nile-related fatalities.

 “We have had an unusually mild fall, and the muggy weather can keep the mosquitoes around even this late in the year,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “Please continue to remove standing water, apply mosquito repellant when outdoors and fix screens or doors to prevent mosquitoes from coming into your homes.”

LDH yesterday reported that 27 birds out of 40 tested this week were positive for West Nile virus. All birds tested were from southern parts of the state, and many were from the Metro New Orleans area.

No new cases of other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as LaCrosse virus and St. Louis encephalitis, were reported. There have been two confirmed cases of St. Louis encephalitis (one death) and three human cases of LaCrosse virus reported this year. In addition, several horses from Northwest Louisiana have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, so health officials are encouraging residents and animal owners of that area to take precautions. No human cases of that mosquito-borne illness have been reported this year.

LaCrosse, St. Louis encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus all are spread to humans through mosquito bites, begin with flu-like symptoms and in extreme cases can lead to brain damage or death.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the LDH Web site,