Baton Rouge --- The Department of Health today reports an additional seven cases of West Nile virus meningo-encephalitis, bringing the year’s count to 10 cases so far. One case is from Jefferson Parish, and the other six new cases all came from Caddo Parish. These cases are in addition to the three cases in Caddo, Lafourche and Terrebone parishes that LDH confirmed earlier this month. Five of the total victims are female and the other five are male.
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. At last count, Caddo Parish had reported more infected dead birds than any other parish.
“During last year’s outbreak, the dead bird surveillance proved to be a useful tool in predicting where human cases might occur based on where infected birds were found first,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “That correlation also appears true this year for the Caddo Parish area.”
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.
State Explains Why Dead Birds No Longer Collected in Caddo
With more than three dozen dead birds from Caddo Parish testing positive for West Nile virus, state health officials are no longer accepting dead birds for laboratory testing in this parish.
Health officials explain that dead bird testing is a surveillance program that is intended only to determine whether or not West Nile is present in a particular parish. Once there is enough conclusive evidence to show the virus is firmly entrenched, there is no longer a scientific basis to continue testing. This is the situation in Caddo Parish.
“We understand the concerns of citizens that lead them to report dead birds, as well as a desire to know if the bird they report to us tested positive,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard. “But, when our testing resources are limited, and when there is no new information to be gained, we phase out this part of our surveillance efforts.”
Ratard added that citizens in Caddo can continue to call the nearest LDH health unit to report dead birds.
“Although these birds will not be tested, it is still helpful for us to know where birds are being found. There is now enough evidence for us to assume these dead birds died of West Nile, so citizen reports help us track the spread of the disease,” he said. “We then forward these reports to local mosquito control officials to help them target their abatement efforts.”