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LITTLE ROCK, AR -(WMC-TV) – The Arkansas Department of Health confirms the first death of the year caused by the West Nile Virus.

In Arkansas, there have been 15 reports of the virus. Five cases have been reported in Tennessee. And Mississippi has seen 64 cases.

The virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The number of infections usually peaks in mid-August.

“It is not clear why we are seeing more activity than in recent years,” said Susan Weinstein, DVM, MPH, state public health veterinarian at the Arkansas Department of Health. “Regardless of the reasons for the increase, people should be aware we have West Nile virus in our state and take action to protect themselves and their family from mosquitoes.”

Here are some tips from the health department to prevent the virus:

  • Wear DEET-containing mosquito repellants according to label directions
  •  Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Check properties for objects – including old tires, flower pots and drip plates, tin cans, buckets, and children’s toys – that collect rainwater and either drain or dispose of the water
  • Install or repair windows and door screens
  • Empty, clean and refill birdbaths and small wading pools weekly
  • Empty and refill pets’ water bowls every few days
  • Repair failed septic systems
  • Repair leaky outside faucets
  • Clean rain gutters and down spouts
  • Secure swimming pool covers tightly and remove any standing water after rainfall
  • Store wheelbarrows, canoes and boats upside down
  • Stock ornamental lawn ponds with fish (Gambusia) that eat mosquito larvae (Gambusia fish are available FREE from the Vector Control Program)

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