Baton Rouge --- After three weeks of West Nile inactivity, the Department of Health today reports seven additional West Nile virus cases. These are the first new cases confirmed in December. Also, an 87-year-old female from Bossier Parish who died in September is being reported as a West Nile-related death. 

The new West Nile cases are from Bossier, East Feliciana, Livingston, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Tangipahoa parishes. The West Nile case total for 2003 now stands at 117 cases. Three parishes (East Feliciana, St. Bernard and St. Charles) now have reported their first case West Nile cases. 

According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard, identifying West Nile cases in December is not unexpected. 

“Last year, we confirmed cases where the onset of symptoms occurred as late as mid-December,” he said. “Of the seven new cases, the most recent person experienced symptoms the last week of November. So, we can anticipate a few more late cases this year.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nationwide there have been 8,734 West Nile cases confirmed this year and 208 deaths. More than half of these cases have been identified in three states: Colorado (2,477 cases and 45 deaths), Nebraska (1,760 and 21) and South Dakota (1,013 and 13). 

To lessen your risk of contracting West Nile virus or St. Louis encephalitis, apply mosquito repellent, 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 how to take precautions against contracting a mosquito-borne disease or to receive updated information about tracking and surveillance of the virus, please visit the Office of Public Health Web site,