By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
DETROIT (AP) - Michigan health officials say an 86-year-old woman from Wayne County is the fourth person to die from the West Nile virus in the state this year.
Department of Community Health spokeswoman Angela Minicuci confirmed the death Wednesday.
On a conference call with reporters, MDCH Interim Chief Medical Executive Dean Sienko said there have been 80 human cases of West Nile this year in the state, and in 62 of those, the patient required hospitalization.
In all of 2011, Michigan recorded 34 human cases of West Nile virus and two deaths.
Sienko says Michigan is experiencing an "epidemic of West Nile virus activity."
Experts think a mild winter, early spring and hot summer have helped stimulate mosquito breeding and the spread of the virus.
The best way to prevent West Nile disease is to avoid mosquito bites. Insect repellents, screens on doors and windows, and wearing long sleeves and pants are some of the recommended strategies. Also, empty standing water from buckets, kiddie pools and other places to discourage breeding.
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