The Department of Health and Hospitals Friday confirmed 53 new human cases of West Nile virus. That makes 145 reported infections of West Nile in Louisiana so far in 2012, the highest number of cases the state has seen in the past several years.
The state also confirmed three deaths from West Nile this week. Nine people have died in Louisiana from the disease so far in 2012.
Of the new West Nile cases reported this week, 31 have been of the more deadly neuroinvasive form of the disease.
In the greater New Orleans area, they include cases in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Ascension and Livingston parishes.
The most active year for West Nile cases in Louisiana was 2002, when the state experienced 328 cases and 24 deaths.
For 10 years, state health officials have conducted robust surveillance year-round, which includes working with doctors, hospitals and health care providers around the state to track human cases and reminding people to be vigilant in avoiding mosquito bites.