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Encephalitis claims Gulf Shores baby

GULF SHORES (AP) — The father of a 6-month-old Gulf Shores boy who died from Eastern equine encephalitis warned parents to protect their children from mosquitoes, which spread the virus.

The baby, Dylan Chaparro, died Wednesday at a Mobile hospital from what doctors told family members was the mosquito-borne illness, according to his father, Emiliano Chaparro.

"If someone had told me this could happen, maybe we could have done more. I don't know, kept him inside," Chaparro told the Press-Register. "People need to know about this."

Dylan, who developed a fever in late August, became Alabama's first victim of the disease in two years, according to health officials.

Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health said Tuesday that a Gulf Shores infant had the first human case of EEE in the state this year, but would not release other details.

Dr. J.P. Lofgren, state epidemiologist for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said officials do not announce a human case until tests confirm the disease. He said officials have been warning residents since June, however, that the disease had been found in animals and could be spread to humans.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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