September 2, 2013 at 11:20 AM CDT - Updated June 30 at 12:05 PM
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reports eight new cases of West Nile virus, four of them dangerous infections of the brain or spinal cord. That brings the year's total so far to 21 cases, 10 of them neuroinvasive cases, which can cause brain damage, paralysis or death. A news release Friday said the new neuroinvasive cases were reported in Caldwell, Lafayette, Ouachita and Rapides parishes. Lafayette Parish also reported two cases of flu-like West Nile fever, with one each in Ouachita and Calcasieu. This year's neuroinvasive cases include five in Ouachita Parish, two in Caldwell Parish and one each in Calcasieu, Lafayette and Rapides parishes. People get the virus from mosquito bites. Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist, recommends taking precautions against mosquitoes.