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May 31, 2014

Grove man, 76, identified as virus victim

OKLAHOMA CITY — A U.S. army veteran whose family said he was otherwise healthy was identified as the first Oklahoma victim of the Heartland virus.

Family members confirmed to the Tulsa World that 76-year-old Jerry Lee Mitzer was the second person to die nationally after complications from the virus. The Grove man died May 21.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only 10 cases of the virus have been identified since its initial discovery in 2009 in Missouri. The CDC is actively researching the virus.

The flu-like symptoms of Heartland virus may include fever, nausea and diarrhea. There is no cure for the virus.

Health officials urge residents to remain vigilant in checking for ticks after being outdoors and to use bug spray with at least 20 percent DEET.

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