Arkansas Records First Human Death of Year from West Nile Virus

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas health officials say the first death in the state from West Nile virus this year has been confirmed.

Officials did not identify the person who died from the virus, or say where that person lived.  So far, the state has confirmed three human cases of the virus this year.  Nationally, there have been 444 reported cases with 15 deaths this year.

Department officials say testing has confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in birds in Benton, Greene, Jefferson, Pulaski, Sebastian, Washington and White counties.  Officials say mosquito pools in Crittenden, Greene and Sebastian counties also tested positive for the virus.

Melody Parsley, a senior epidemiologist and state West Nile virus program manager, said those results were expected, since West Nile virus has become endemic in the state.  Last year, four people died in Arkansas from the virus, with another 29 confirmed cases statewide.

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