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San Bernardino County has first West Nile virus death of year

October 24, 2012 |  7:30 am

Health officials say they have confirmed the year's first human death from the West Nile Virus in San Bernardino County.

Officials did not release any details on who the person was or when he or she died.

"We are greatly saddened by this death that has occurred in San Bernardino County.... We continue to see an increase of WNV activity throughout the County and therefore, we strongly encourage that the public takes appropriate precautionary measures to protect themselves against mosquito bites," San Bernardino County Health Officer Maxwell Ohikhuare said in a news release.

"People over 50 years old should be especially cautious, as they are more likely to develop serious illness if they contract the virus," Ohikhuare said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 people in the U.S. have reported being sick with West Nile Virus since 1999. So far in 2012, 4,531 cases have been reported, according to the agency's website.

The virus generally spreads from the bite of an infected mosquito that has feasted on an infected bird.

"Most people with the virus have no symptoms; however, some people may develop severe symptoms which can lead to brain inflammation or paralysis," according to the news release, which says that "signs and symptoms of WNV may include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache."

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