Baton Rouge --- State health officials report eight new cases of West Nile virus, raising the year’s total to 67 cases. In addition, five cases of St. Louis encephalitis and one death associated with that virus have been reported from the Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes area.  

St. Louis encephalitis, like West Nile virus, is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds. The symptoms for this virus are similar to West Nile virus. Severity and fatality rates for both viruses also are similar. 

The state last week reported 60 cases of West Nile virus in humans, but one reported case from Livingston Parish was reclassified this week as a St. Louis encephalitis case.  

“On preliminary serologic tests, this case was positive for both West Nile and Saint Louis encephalitis infections,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “Further serologic testing, which became available recently, showed that this case was actually a Saint Louis encephalitis infection.” 

Health officials this week reported the death of a 64-year-old Livingston Parish man from St. Louis encephalitis. To date, there has been only one West Nile virus fatality, a 73-year-old man from Shreveport. 

There was one new case of West Nile virus reported from Bossier, Caddo, Jefferson, Lincoln, Morehouse, St. Helena, Washington and West Carroll parishes this week. There also were four St. Louis encephalitis cases reported from Livingston Parish and one from East Baton Rouge Parish. 

“The medical treatment of a case is similar whether it is diagnosed as West Nile infection or Saint Louis encephalitis,” Ratard said. “Preventive measures against mosquitoes and prevention of mosquito bites are also similar.” 

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,