The Department of Health has detected five more cases of West Nile virus, bringing the total number of cases in Louisiana to 40 this year. There are two new cases from East Baton Rouge Parish and one case each from Livingston, Morehouse and West Carroll parishes.

In addition to the new cases, an elderly woman from Ouachita Parish has died from the virus. This is the third fatality attributed to West Nile virus in Louisiana this year. There also have been two confirmed cases of St. Louis encephalitis (one death) and three human cases of LaCrosse virus.

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.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard observed that much of this year’s viral activity has occurred in East Baton Rouge Parish. That parish has 14 of the state’s 40 cases.

“Despite the recent increase in human cases, this season is turning out to be much lighter than past summers, where we saw hundreds of human cases,” Ratard said. “However, mosquito activity still is present, and it is important for people to take precautions.”

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,