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West Nile Kills OC Woman

A 61-year-old Tustin resident becomes the first person in Orange County to die from the virus since 2008.

A 61-year-old Tustin woman died last week from West Nile virus, the first Orange County fatality from the disease since 2008, health officials announced Monday.

The woman succumbed after an illness that lasted several weeks. According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, she contracted West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease, a more severe form of infection.

"This unfortunate death shows how serious West Nile virus infection can be," County Health Officer Dr. Eric G. Handler told City News Service.

The county has logged 39 reported cases of West Nile infection, and six blood donors have tested positive. Officials said the number of cases dipped in the past month, but the county is still seeing its highest numbers since 2008, which had 79 total infections and three deaths.

As of Friday, there have been 453 reported human cases of West Nile virus across California, according to state health and vector control officials. There were 16 deaths as of Friday, including five in Los Angeles County. The Orange County death brings the statewide toll to 17.

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