Baton Rouge --- Although no humans have tested positive for West Nile virus this year, the disease still is appearing in the state’s feathered population. Ten dead birds from eight parishes tested positive for the virus last week, raising the state’s testing and surveillance total to 81 dead birds from 42 parishes.
The new positives came from Caddo, Natchitoches, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. John, St. Landry, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes. St. Landry is the only parish among the eight that had no previous reports of West Nile-infected birds. The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Diagnostic Laboratory has tested 1,427 birds for the virus this year.
“While we are glad that we have not received reports of human cases, it still is important for people to take the necessary precautions against West Nile virus,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “The state did not see a human case of the virus until July during the 2002 outbreak, so the coming months still are a crucial time to avoid mosquito bites when enjoying the summer weather outdoors.”
West Nile virus, which humans contract through mosquito bites, begins with flu-like symptoms. Most people infected with the virus do not experience severe effects, but in extreme cases West Nile can cause encephalitis and lead to brain damage or death. Louisiana ranked fourth nationwide for West Nile virus cases and deaths last year, behind Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
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 sitewww.FighttheBiteLouisiana.com