An elderly Wayne County man has become the first West Nile death in the state in seven years.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the death Tuesday.
Howard West died last Thursday and was buried on Saturday.
The 84-year-old Belfast man is survived by his wife of 65 years and three children. His wife tells us she believes her husband was bitten while working in his tomato garden in their backyard.
Betty West says she first noticed something was wrong when her husband slept through an entire NASCAR race. First there was a trip to the hospital, according to West, for what she says was for something pretty common. "So many elderly people had been coming in recently with dehydration they checked that and gave him some fluids and sent him home," said Betty West. "But he did not do a lot of recovering and by the next Saturday morning we had to take him back and at that point he had got so weak we could barely get him out of the house."
Wayne County Health Director Davin 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.