Baton Rouge --- State health officials today report 13 new human cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana, raising the total from 21 to 34. Nine new cases were from Caddo Parish, where the state’s outbreak is centered. Caddo has 22 out of Louisiana’s 34 cases. Bossier, Livingston, St. Tammany and Union parishes each reported one case in this week’s testing results.

Although Louisiana’s case count has risen, the disease appears to be spreading slower here than the national average. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week reported that West Nile cases tripled nationwide, with Colorado (247 cases), South Dakota (66 cases) and Texas (39 cases) reporting the highest numbers. 

Dead Bird Update

Weekly, the Department of Health and hospitals receives hundreds of reports about dead birds. This surveillance system gives public health officials the information to better track the presence and progress of West Nile through the state. Below are some interesting facts about the program (through 8/9/03):

14,145 - dead birds reported to LDH in 2003
3,517 - dead birds brought to local health officials.
1,675 - tested by LSU
503 - dead birds reported during the week of 8/9/03
185 - dead birds that tested positive for WNV

"We are pleased to see lower numbers of the virus in our state than in other parts of the country, and we also are glad to note we have fewer cases now than at this time last year," said Secretary David W. Hood. "While there is no definite explanation as to why we are seeing lower numbers this season, we hope this means people are taking precautions against mosquito bites."

As of this time last year, Louisiana had reported 147 cases of West Nile virus,with eight deaths stemming from the disease. No deaths from West Nile virus have occurred this year. In addition to the parishes listed above, the virus also has been detected this year in people from Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafourche, Ouachita and Terrebonne parishes.  

To lessen your risk of contracting West Nile virus, apply mosquito repellant, 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,