The Maricopa County Department of Public Health has confirmed an East Valley man in his early 60s has died from West Nile virus, the first death this year from the illness.

So far this season only three cases of the virus have been reported, according to a statement from the health department.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause flu-like symptoms, although usually only about 20 percent of those infected will see such symptoms, according to the statement.

The virus was first reported in Arizona in 2003, and since then many Valley programs have been trying to control mosquito breeding habits in an effort to suppress the sometimes-fatal illness, the statement said.

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