Public health officials announced today that a man from East Baton Rouge Parish is the first person in the state to die from West Nile virus this year.

The victim was a 75-year-old man who died last Monday. The man was included in the cases reported last week, where his condition was listed as critical.

Statewide, there have been 10 human cases of West Nile virus this year; four from East Baton Rouge Parish and one each from Ascension, Caddo, Rapides, Tangipahoa and Union parishes.  One victim’s parish had not been determined when the report was released. 

In addition to these cases, there have been two human cases of LaCrosse virus; one each from Beauregard and East Feliciana parishes, and two St. Louis encephalitis cases; one each from East Baton Rouge and Bossier parishes.

In humans, West Nile virus typically spreads through bites from mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird.  The majority of people who get the virus experience no illness or an infection similar to a mild flu with fever, headache and fatigue.  Rarely, the virus multiplies in the central nervous system and can cause encephalitis or meningitis.  If you begin experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor or health care provider.

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 OPH Web site,