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DHH confirms 2 new West Nile deaths, brings total to 4

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Louisiana confirms two new West Nile virus deaths, bringing this year's total to four.

The Department of Health and Hospitals on Friday, in its weekly Arbovirus Surveillance Report, also notes 19 new infections, of which six were the more serious neuroinvasive disease, bringing this year's total to 80 reported infections.

Three neuroinvasive cases were reported in Caddo Parish and one each in Bossier, East Baton Rouge and St. Tammany parishes. Ten new cases of the milder West Nile fever were reported: two each in Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes and one each in Ascension, Bossier, Ouachita and St. Tammany parishes.

There were also three new asymptomatic cases: one each in Caddo, Livingston and Rapides parishes. Most who contract West Nile fall into the asymptomatic category, meaning they show no symptoms. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or through other routine medical tests.

Humans contract West Nile when they're bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist, is urging residents to protect themselves through use of repellant and other ways to help prevent infections of West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Last year, Louisiana saw 34 of the more serious neuroinvasive cases, down from 2002's high of 204 cases

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