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24 New West Nile Cases In Louisiana

Twenty-four more people in Louisiana have been diagnosed with the West Nile virus this week. However, Louisiana state officals are quick to assure that there have been no more deaths and the disease has not spread to any new parishes, state health officials said Friday.

Steadily spreading westward across the United States, the mosquito-borne West Nile virus has already claimed at least 14 lives, 8 in Louisiana, infected almost 300 people and has been detected in all but seven of the contiguous 48 states.

The new cases brought the total number of cases this year to 171 in Louisiana alone, the state suffering the earliest and worst outbreak since the disease was found in this country in 1999.

However, the rate of growth in cases has slowed — last week there were 62 new cases. "Experts are cautiously optimistic that the outbreak may be diminishing," the state health department said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Health confirmed Friday that one person has died from the West Nile virus.

Epidemiologist Dr. Joe Garrett said the death was among 28 cases of West Nile virus reported in humans in Texas.

Garrett declined to release details on the victim.

Also, two more likely cases of West Nile virus in humans have been reported in South Dakota.

A 54-year-old man from Hoven had symptoms consistent with the disease but no encephalitis, the state Department of Health said Friday. He was never hospitalized and has recovered.

A 76-year-old woman from Vivian reported severe headache and fever, was hospitalized and is doing well, the department said.

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