FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- The West Nile virus probably killed a man who died at a hospital here, doctors said. It is North Dakota's fourth human case and first fatality from the mosquito-borne disease.
"This was an unfortunate case ... but we knew the infection was in our community and we knew the potential we could have deaths," Dr. John Baird, the health officer for Cass County and Fargo, said on Tuesday.
The man died at MeritCare Hospital late last week, about six days after being admitted, Dr. Paul Carson said. He had an underlying illness and a weakened immune system that made him more susceptible to the virus, said Carson, a MeritCare infectious disease specialist.
Carson said the man's family asked doctors whether he might have contracted West Nile when he was hospitalized about two weeks ago with flu-like symptoms. The man told doctors he had been outside and remembered being bitten by mosquitoes, and the hospital ordered West Nile tests, Carson said.
The man then developed a high fever and cognitive problems that were symptoms of the encephalitis that killed him, Carson said.
The victim was in his mid-70s and from the Fargo area. Health officials are not releasing his name, exact age or the day he died at the request of family members concerned about privacy.
Through Tuesday, the CDC had recorded 673 human cases of West Nile virus in the United States, of which 32 were fatal. The North Dakota case would be the 33rd.
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