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      Ark. health officials: 6 dead from West Nile virus

      LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Health Department says a sixth person has died from West Nile virus in the state this year.

      The death adds to the record number of people who have died from the mosquito-borne illness in Arkansas in 2012.

      The previous record of 4 West Nile deaths was set in 2005 and tied in 2006.

      Health Department spokesman Ed Barham says the total number of cases of West Nile has risen to 54 in 2012 to surpass the previous record of 43 cases in 2002 when the disease first hit Arkansas.

      The illness is spread from birds to mosquitoes and transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. In a small percentage of cases the virus can cause fatal swelling of the brain.

      Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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