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Forty percent of Florida was under a medical alert for the deadly disease St. Louis encephalitis Friday after health officials confirmed four cases of the virus in humans in the state, one of them fatal.

The Florida Department of Health expanded its alert from six to 27 of the state's 67 counties, covering a swath of central Florida.

Residents and visitors to the affected counties were told to minimize gardening and other outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, cover as much of their skin as possible while outside during hours mosquitoes are present, use mosquito repellent, eliminate stagnant water in bird baths and other receptacles and check screens.

The medical alert area stretched across the state from Daytona Beach in Volusia County south to Palm Beach.

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