Baton Rouge --- The Department of Health today reports five additional cases of West Nile virus meningo encephalitis in Louisiana, raising the state’s count of human cases to 15. The patients reported this week come from Iberia, Lincoln, Ouachita, St. Tammany and Terrebone parishes. Terrebone Parish had a previously reported case of West Nile virus, but the other four parishes are reporting the first human cases this year.
Human cases of the virus now have been reported from seven parishes statewide. Caddo Parish has the most West Nile cases so far, with seven people testing positive for the virus. In addition to Caddo Parish, cases of the virus also were reported from Jefferson and Lafourche parishes.
West Nile virus surveillance, which has been in place since March 21, has detected the virus in dead birds from 46 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes. During last year’s outbreak, state health officials noticed that monitoring the disease among birds was a good way to predict where outbreaks among humans would occur. Caddo Parish also has reported more West Nile-positive birds than any other parish.
“Although we are seeing increased numbers of human cases, we still are seeing fewer cases than at this time during last year’s outbreak,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “However, since the virus appears to be spreading across the state, it is important for all citizens to be aware of the risks and take precautions against contracting West Nile through mosquito bites.”
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,www.FighttheBiteLouisiana.com.