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June 1, 2017KANSAS CITY, Mo. |  By: Coffey / AP

West Nile virus suspected as cause of death

The Jackson County medical examiner is investigating whether the West Nile virus caused the death an 8-year-old boy.

Angie Jeffries, spokeswoman for the medical examiner, says West Nile is suspected in the May 23 death of an Independence boy. She says the Missouri Department of Health is testing a sample for the virus and the medical examiner is asking for several additional tests.

If West Nile is confirmed, it would be the earliest in a calendar year that a fatality from the disease has occurred in Missouri history. Since the state began tracking the mosquito-borne virus in 2002, most cases have occurred between July and September.

The earliest confirmed fatality in Missouri due to West Nile virus was a Laclede County man who contracted the illness May 28, 2014.