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Second Minnesotan dies from West Nile virus

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The Minnesota Department of Health says a second person has died from the West Nile virus, WCCO-TV reports.

No information was released about the latest victim. The department confirmed the first death from West Nile last month, but only identified the victim as a man from greater Minnesota.

The department, which released its latest figures last week, indicated that there have been 29 current cases of mosquito-borne virus in the state so far this year.

The number of cases, updated from 16 cases in August, includes a number of cases where the virus was detected in blood donor.

This year's total of West Nile cases is down considerably from the 103 cases reported in the state last year.

The Department of Health updated its map to reflect where the virus has been diagnosed, county-by-county, across the state.

Stearns and Otter Tail counties have the most confirmed cases of West Nile virus, with three each.

The first case of West Nile virus of the year in the state was reported in July in Murray County, which is in southwest Minnesota.

The department issued a warning last week about the increase in mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus, Minnesota Public Radio reports, even though the number of mosquitoes overall is on the decline.

Since the West Nile virus is a potentially life-threatening disease, department officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions to protect themselves by using mosquito repellants and other methods to prevent bites.

Dave Neitzel, a state epidemiologist, tells MPR that the chances of contracting West Nile are very low, since most people's immune systems fight it off.

According to the department, the instances of West Nile virus is much higher in western and central Minnesota, because mosquitoes carrying the virus are more prevalent in agricultural areas than cities.

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