New Jersey health officials are reporting the first death of a person from the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

They say a 77-year-old Burlington County man who tested positive for the virus died earlier this week. He developed fever, weakness  and respiratory distress Aug. 20 and was hospitalized Aug. 26.

To date the state has confirmed 15 cases of West Nile virus around New Jersey.

More than 85 West Nile-related deaths have been reported nationwide this year.

New Jersey health officials declined to provide the name of the victim or his hometown in order to protect the family's privacy.

Last year there were seven confirmed cases of West Nile virus in New Jersey, but no fatalities. In 2010 there were 30 cases, including two deaths. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk of serious health complications.


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