Baton Rouge ---  The West Nile outbreak continues lessening, with only two new cases of the virus reported this week in Rapides and Natchitoches parishes. A new case of St. Louis encephalitis also was reported from Livingston Parish.  

In addition to the new cases, a 73-year-old man from Livingston Parish died Nov. 7 from complications of West Nile virus. The victim previously had been counted as a case from Tangipahoa Parish, but upon further investigation, mosquito abatement representatives learned he actually lived in Livingston Parish. This man was the fourth person to die of West Nile virus this year. There also has been one death from St. Louis encephalitis this year.

For the second week in a row, no new cases of West Nile virus were reported from the Bossier/Caddo parishes area, which was the center of this year’s outbreak. Out of the 103 West Nile cases that occurred this year, 49 were from that area. The seven St. Louis cases reported this year all have come from the East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes area.  

Despite the fact that new cases continue appearing, the end is near for the 2003 West Nile virus season, according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. 

“We are glad that we did not endure an outbreak as severe as last year’s West Nile season,” said Department of Health Secretary David W. Hood. “Hopefully, our citizens have begun taking proactive measures to avoid mosquito bites and will continue to do so. We hope to see even fewer cases of the virus next year.” 

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,