Baton Rouge--- As Louisiana enters the fourth month of West Nile surveillance, the total count for dead birds infected with the virus stands at 97 birds, with 16 new birds testing positive this week.
In addition to tracking the disease in birds, the Department of Health also is investigating two possible human cases of the virus. One of the possible victims is a 51-year-old woman in Caddo Parish and the other is a 66-year-old woman from Terrebone Parish. Samples are being sent to the Office of Public Health state lab for analysis. LDH-OPH will only announce a positive West Nile virus case following confirmation by the state lab.
“The United States already has seen the first human case of West Nile this year, and it is quite possible either of these individuals could be the first cases from our state,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “Citizens must continue their vigilance in taking steps to lessen their risk of contracting the virus, especially since the multiple rainstorms and rising temperatures in our area have led to increased mosquito activity.”
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.
In order to predict where West Nile virus will surface, OPH tracks the virus in dead birds. The virus often appears in bird specimens in an area before it appears in humans. The virus has appeared in birds from 45 parishes this year.
Parishes that had positive birds appear for the first time during the latest results were Jefferson Davis, Lafourche, Richland and St. James parishes. The virus also reappeared in birds from Caddo, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Tammany, Vernon and Washington parishes. The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Diagnostic Laboratory has tested 1,469 birds from all 64 Louisiana parishes for the virus this year.
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 sitewww.FighttheBiteLouisiana.com.