The Department of Health today reported 14 new cases of West Nile virus, raising the 2004 case count to 89 human infections.

The new human cases were reported from Bossier (3), Caddo (1), Concordia (1), East Baton Rouge (4), East Feliciana (1), Evangeline (1), Orleans (1) and  Rapides (2) parishes.

In addition, there were three new deaths reported from West Nile virus: a 78-year-old female from Rapides Parish, a 63-year-old man from Evangeline Parish and an 85-year old man from East Baton Rouge Parish.

LDH also reported that 17 birds were tested for the virus this week and all were positive. Seven of these birds were from St. Bernard Parish and the remaining 10 were from Southwest Louisiana.

“The weather may be turning cooler, but it is obvious mosquito activity is still taking place and West Nile virus is still present,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “We urge people to keep taking precautions against mosquito bites.”

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.

To avoid West Nile virus, apply mosquito repellant, wear long sleeves and long pants and avoid wearing perfumes or colognes when outside for prolonged periods of time. Also, remove any standing water from around your home and make sure your windows and doors have secure screens.

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