The state’s first human cases of West Nile Virus of the year have been reported by the Department of Health.  While the West Nile season may be off to a later start than usual, Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter says this time last year, there were 53 cases, but he is hesitant to call it an optimistic trend.

“We expect the case count to go up.  Looking back through the past five or ten years, every year is different, the start and the end changes every year, so I’m really hesitant to make any generalizations,” said Kanter.

Kanter says the virus has three levels of seriousness and cases have been discovered in East Baton Rouge, Washington, Livingston, St. Tammany, and Caddo parishes.

“Five of them are the very serious neuroinvasive disease, two of those are the mild fever and two of them are the asymptomatic ones where the patients have no symptoms at all and that was picked up from blood donations,” said Kanter.

The department recommends people mitigate the risk of contracting the virus by wearing more clothes and use bug repellants that contains DEET.  Kanter says look for standing water, because that is where mosquitos tend to breed.

“Mosquitoes can breed in just an overturned bottlecap, but typically we look at flower pots, bottles, anything in your yard that can trap even the smallest amounts of water,” said Kanter.