GOLDSBORO -

Wayne County officials say a resident has become North Carolina's first death from West Nile virus this year.

84-year-old Howard West of Wayne County died last thursday. Family members are convinced he was bitten by an infected mosquito while tending to is tomato plants.

Wayne County Health Director Davin Madden said his staff notified all medical providers in the area about the case, causing local health experts are warning residents to be aware of the disease.

"Especially at this season people should always take precaution," Carteret County Health Department Spokesperson, Mary Fournier, said.

Fournier said the virus is most common in the summer months, but emphasized the death in Wayne County should not worry residents, but is a reminder of the dangers of the virus.

"We don't want people to think that this is going to be a rash of cases."

Only one percent of people who contract the virus become seriously ill, according to health officials.
Fournier advises using bug spray and wearing long sleeves and pants to protect against mosquitoes.

Some of the symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache and a stiff neck. The disease is most commonly attracted by adults over the age of 50.

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Wayne County officials say a resident has become North Carolina's first death from West Nile virus this year.

The News-Argus of Goldsboro reported that Wayne County Health Director Davin Madden on Monday announced the cause of death. The man's name has not been released.

Madden says his staff has notified all medical providers in the area about the case.

West Nile virus is typically transmitted by mosquitoes. Madden says people should avoid areas of standing water and wear long sleeves when outdoors.

Some of the symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache and a stiff neck.