The Department of Health has detected 15 more cases of West Nile virus, bringing the total number of cases in Louisiana to 55. Nine of the new cases were from the Caddo/Bossier parishes area, which had the majority of cases during last year’s outbreak.

In addition to the cases from Caddo (6) and Bossier (3), new cases were reported from East Baton Rouge (2), Livingston (2), Morehouse (1) and Red River (1) parishes. There have been three deaths from the virus this year, but no additional deaths were reported this week.

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.

LaCrosse, St. Louis 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.

“Although we detected more cases this week, West Nile virus activity has been lighter this year than in past years, and appears to be winding down as we head toward the fall months,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said. “However, it still is very important for people to be vigilant about protecting themselves against infection.”

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,