Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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DHH: 53 new West Nile cases, 3 deaths

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BATON ROUGE - The state Department of Health and Hospitals said three more people died this week from the West Nile Virus, and 53 new cases were reported.

That brings the year's total deaths to nine, the most in recent years according to DHH.  The most was in 2002, with 24 deaths.

The agency sais 31 of the new cases were neuroinvasive infections, the most serious form of the virus.  Ten of those were reported from East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes.

Humans are not the only ones who should beware of the potentially-deadly virus. Chad Mason said changes in his horse's behavior prompted him to take Voodoo to the vet, where he was diagnosed with West Nile.

"I thought he was going to die," Mason said. "I raised him all this time to make a nice riding horse. Vaccinate him, take care of him, and get stuff like this, you get frustrated."

There are 27 horses affected with West Nile Virus in the state. Chad says while his horse is a big concern, his family is an even bigger concern.

"If the mosquito bit him, what's stopping the same mosquito from biting someone else? Biting another horse or one of my kids," says Mason.

J. T. Lane, the Assistant Secretary for the state Office of Public Health, asked people in Louisiana to remember all it takes is a bite from a mosquito to contract the disease.

"This is an easy illness to avoid - if you know you'll be outside, take a few minutes to apply repellant," Lane said. "We want people to be especially mindful of this because we are just getting to the time of year when people are spending more time outside tailgating, going to football games and having cookouts."

Those at most risk from West Nile infections are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. For more information, visit the DHH's "Fite the Bite" webpage.


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