Baton Rouge --- Louisiana now has 84 cases of West Nile virus for the 2003 season. State health officials announced 10 new cases of the virus this week, with three parishes seeing the first human case of West Nile this year. However, since one case was removed from last week’s tally and another was reclassified, the case count only rose by nine, from 75 to 84 cases.
Caddo Parish, the epicenter of this year’s West Nile outbreak, reported six new cases this week. Caddo has 39 of the state’s 84 cases. Claiborne, DeSoto, Lincoln, Natchitoches and St. Helena parishes each reported one new West Nile case. Claiborne, DeSoto and Natchitoches parishes had not previously reported a human West Nile case.
“Although we have seen more new cases, these all appear to have been contracted in early September,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “Since we are seeing fewer new cases from late September, it appears the outbreak is drawing to a close.”
A Tangipahoa Parish case announced last week was reclassified as a St. Helena Parish case after health officials determined the victim lived in the neighboring parish. This drops the number of Tangipahoa cases from four to three.
The Webster Parish case was removed from Louisiana’s case count because the victim from that parish contracted the disease while staying in Colorado, which makes that case part of Colorado’s case count. Colorado has reported more West Nile cases than any other state this year.
In addition to the West Nile cases, a new case of St. Louis encephalitis was reported in East Baton Rouge Parish. There have been six cases of that disease this year, all of which have occurred in the East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes area.
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,www.FighttheBiteLouisiana.com.