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NDDOH reports first West Nile-related death of 2017

The North Dakota Department of Health on Thursday reported the state’s first West Nile virus-related death of 2017.

The victim, who was not named, was over age 60 and suffering from underlying medical conditions, according to the department. The woman resided in central North Dakota and died while hospitalized.

“People older than 60 years, or those who have underlying health issues are at the greatest risk of developing a severe illness due to West Nile virus infection,” said Laura Cronquist, an epidemiologist with the Health Department.

Most people infected with West Nile virus experience mild symptoms such as fever and headache, she said. With more severe types of infection, the virus can cause high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, altered mental state and death.

People with these symptoms should see a health care provider immediately. Until there is a hard frost to get rid of the remaining mosquito population taking steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites is the best prevention, Cronquist said.

To date, 29 human West Nile virus cases have been reported in 16 counties this year with 12 of the cases hospitalized. In 2016, North Dakota had 85 cases with 28 cases hospitalized and two deaths.

For more information about West Nile virus and prevention, visit www.ndhealth.gov/wnv.

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