An elderly Maricopa County woman has died from West Nile virus, Maricopa County Public Health said Wednesday, becoming the first confirmed death in the state this year from the disease.
The woman was one of five cases in the county - all in the East Valley - reported last week.
The Maricopa County woman had pre-existing health conditions. Her city of residence was not identified.
A sixth East Valley case was confirmed last week in Pinal County.
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of a mosquito. About 20 percent of humans infected will develop mild flu-like symptoms. But in a small number of cases, it can turn serious or deadly.
Maricopa County also reported Wednesday the number of confirmed human cases has grown to 10.
"Unfortunately, most of these cases in Maricopa County and in the state have the more severe form of West Nile virus which is meningitis and/or encephalitis," said Craig Levy, Arizona Department of Health Services Vector Control program manager. "Because most people with milder symptoms of West Nile stay at home and don't seek medical care, we rarely hear of these cases. That means there are a lot more people sick with West Nile than we know of."
More than 100 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus all over the state this year, with many in the East Valley.
In Maricopa County, to set-up an appointment to obtain mosquito eating fish for a green pool, to report green pools, to file any mosquito-related complaint, or to register on the fogging notification system and receive West Nile virus materials, call (602) 506-0700 or visit www.maricopa.gov/wnv.