Ark. health officials: 5 dead from West Nile virus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Health Department says a record number of people have died from West Nile virus in the state this year.

The Health Department says five people have died from the mosquito-borne illness in Arkansas so far in 2012. Four people died from the disease in 2005 and in 2006.

State public health veterinarian Susan Weinstein said Friday that the total number of West Nile cases has risen to 43 so far this year. That figure ties the record for the highest number of cases, which was set in 2002 when the disease first hit Arkansas.

The illness is spread from birds to mosquitoes and transmitted to humans. In a small percentage of cases, people with the virus can develop brain swelling, which can be fatal.

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