Baton Rouge --- The Department of Health today announces six more Louisiana residents have tested positive for West Nile virus, bringing the 2003 case total to 40 cases. Three of the new cases come from Caddo Parish, where this year’s West Nile outbreak has been centered. Caddo has 25 of Louisiana’s total cases. Other new cases were reported in Bossier, Ouachita and Tangipahoa parishes.
Although West Nile numbers climbed this week, the 2003 total case count still is significantly lower than at this time last year. On August 23 2002, LDH announced 171 West Nile cases and eight deaths, and state Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard declared Louisiana was averaging 20 to 22 new cases a week at that time.
“We are encouraged to see Louisiana reporting fewer cases than last year and fewer cases than other states this year,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “Just last week, Colorado reported 92 new cases, bringing that state to 635 cases total. More than 100 cases also have been reported in Nebraska and South Dakota, and there have been several deaths nationwide. We have been lucky so far and hope to continue avoiding an outbreak of this magnitude.”
Dead Bird Update
Dead birds that are testing positive continue to be found in northeast Louisiana. This week, nine of 12 birds collected in Morehouse and Lincoln parishes tested positive for WNV. This indicates the virus is well established in that parish, and health officials will no longer accept or collect dead birds for laboratory testing. This status had previously been adopted for Caddo, Bossier and Natchitoches parishes.
The most recent weekly lab reports show 30 of 50 birds testing WNV-positive. These positive results come from birds found Ouachita (6), Lincoln (5), Morehouse (4), St. Tammany and Washington (3), Livingston (2), and one each in Assumption, Beauregard, Claiborne, Iberville, Lafayette, Terrebonne and Union.
This brings the statewide year-to-date total to 241 positives out of 1808 tested (plus one positive bird tested from Mississippi).
In addition to the West Nile virus cases, LDH has received test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating a Tangipahoa Parish resident tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Public health workers suspected this individual had the mosquito-borne virus, which is rarer than West Nile, and sent spinal fluid samples to the CDC for confirmation. This is the first human case of EEE in Louisiana this year.
West Nile virus cases have been reported in 12 parishes this year --- Bossier, Caddo, Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Ouachita, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne and Union.
To lessen your risk of contracting West Nile virus, 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 West Nile or to receive updated information about tracking and surveillance of the virus, please visit the Office of Public Health Web site, www.FighttheBiteLouisiana.com.