An elderly woman in Stevens County has become the first Minnesotan to die of West Nile virus this year, state health officials confirmed on Monday.

The woman, who was not identified, was hospitalized earlier this month and died of complications of the mosquito-borne illness, said Dave Neitzel of the Minnesota Department of Health.

As of Monday, 20 cases have been confirmed in Minnesota. In addition, officials have detected the virus in 10 apparently healthy blood donors, some as recently as last week, Neitzel said. All blood donations are screened for the virus.

The department is investigating eight to 10 additional suspected cases. Officials are cautioning the public to take precautions against mosquito bites to minimize the risk of infection.

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