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First West Nile death in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sep 02, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Illinois Public Health officials confirmed the first human death from West Nile disease in the state this year and warned the disease will peak in September.

The victim was a 58-year-old DuPage County man who was hospitalized after developing West Nile encephalitis in mid-August. He was the second DuPage County resident to be diagnosed with West Nile virus infection this summer.

"This man's unfortunate death serves as a reminder to all of us how serious West Nile disease can be," Dr. Eric Whitaker, state public health director said. Officials reported four new cases bringing the total number of West Nile infections this year to 20.

In 2003, Illinois recorded 54 human cases of West Nile disease, including one death. In 2002, the state was the nation's hotspot for the mosquito-borne disease with 884 human cases and 66 deaths.

West Nile has spread coast-to-coast since its arrival in the lower 48 states in an outbreak in New York City in 1999. West Nile has killed 586 people in the past five years.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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