An Erie County resident who contracted West Nile Virus has died, Dr. Gale R. Burstein, county health commissioner, reported Tuesday, but she added that it's uncertain if the virus was responsible for the death.
The person's identity and other details are being withheld for privacy reasons, Burstein said. She confirmed only that the victim was an older adult who died in a hospital and had other serious health problems.
"We're saying that it's West Nile Virus-associated," she added, "but we cannot say right now that it was the cause of death." She could not confirm Tuesday whether an autopsy would be performed.
Burstein said this was the eighth case of the mosquito-borne virus in Erie County this year, but there may be many more that have gone undetected. In one case, she related, the virus was discovered when the patient went to donate blood.
"Most people don't know they've been infected," she explained. "They have no symptoms at all. Others have flulike symptoms."
She advised people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by limiting exposure during early morning and evening hours, when the insects are most active, by using bug repellent and by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
She added that 150 pools of water have been found to contain the virus in Erie County. She urged that swimming pools be kept well-chlorinated and that areas of standing water be eliminated to keep mosquitoes from breeding.