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North Dakota resident dies of West Nile virus

September 10, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A resident of southwest North Dakota over the age of 60 has become the first person in the state to die of West Nile virus this year.

The state health department announced the West Nile virus-related death on Friday.

As of Thursday, there have been 19 cases of West Nile virus in 13 counties, the health department said. Ten people have been hospitalized.

Last year, North Dakota had seven reported cases of West Nile virus and no deaths.

Health officials say most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms or mild symptoms. In more severe infections, the virus can cause high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, altered mental state or death.

Amanda Bakken, an epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health said in a statement that people over 60 or those with underlying health issues are at greatest risk of developing severe illness due to West Nile virus.

Transmission of the virus usually peaks in late summer in North Dakota. Health officials say people should continue to use mosquito repellant and take other precautions to protect themselves.