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Cases of encephalitis reach 76

Eleven more cases of St. Louis encephalitis were reported Tuesday, bringing the state's total since mid-August to 76. In addition to the confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne viral illness, six more presumptive cases _ including one in Hillsborough County _ have brought that total to 39, said David Adams, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS).

The presumptive list is of people who show some symptoms of the flulike disease and who test positive in the first test but have not had a follow-up test.

Health officials warned again that parents taking their children out for Halloween should make sure trick or treaters use repellent and are fully covered to prevent mosquito bites.

The death count from the outbreak is three, Adams said.

The death rate during an outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis, which can lead to fatal brain inflammation, typically is 7 percent. Eight people died during the last Florida outbreak in 1977. The state usually has one to three cases of the viral illness a year.

Health officials said they think a 63-year-old Temple Terrace man has contracted the most recent case of encephalitis in Hillsborough County. The man was hospitalized Oct. 11 with a "mild case" of the virus, said Tom Jones, a spokesman for HRS.

_ Staff writer Bill Duryea contributed to this report.

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