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Two die in Toronto from West Nile disease

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TORONTO, Aug 31, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Two Toronto men have become Canada's first fatalities this year from the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

Dr. Michael Finkelstein, Toronto's associate medical officer of health, said a 63-year-old man and a 90-year-old man died last weekend, although he could not confirm whether the victims contracted the disease in the city, the Toronto Star reported Wednesday.

Both men likely were infected in late July or early August, and "both had the more severe type of West Nile virus, the neurological symptoms, and they got progressively worse in hospital," Finkelstein said.

There have been 15 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Toronto this year.

Canada's Public Health Agency Web site lists 20 West Nile-related deaths nationally in 2002, compared with two in 2004.

About 20 percent of people bitten by a mosquito infected by West Nile experience mild symptoms such as fever, headaches and swollen glands. Fewer than 1 percent become seriously ill. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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