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Locals vigilant after NC West Nile Virus death

READ MORE: Locals vigilant after NC West Nile Virus death
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We're in peak mosquito season. Now, West Nile Virus has arrived in fatal fashion in North Carolina.

Howard West, 84, died Thursday from the West Nile Virus.

"You've been with someone 65 years, and you put him in the ground, part of you goes in there with them, too," West's widow Betty said.

It's believed a mosquito bit the Wayne County man while he was in his garden.

Nationwide, the number of West Nile cases is on the rise. More than 390 have been reported this year. That's the most since 2004.

David Jenkins with the New Hanover County Health Department uses the CDC's website to keep up with all reported cases of West Nile.

"We were able to monitor that and look at the different incidences of cases there and watch it kinda migrate, so eventually we knew it was coming to North Carolina, just a matter of time, did our best to kinda prepare," Jenkins said.

That means spraying for mosquitoes, killing larva in the water and testing their sentinel chicken flock in Castle Hayne. Every other week a blood sample is drawn from the chickens to see if they test positive for West Nile or Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

"We've only seen three tests have come back positive for EEE," Jenkins said. "West Nile Virus, even though we're testing for it, has not shown up in our sentinel flock at this time.'

In the meantime, you can help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by removing standing water from things like flower pots, gutters and kiddie pools. Also, clean ornamental ponds and make sure the filters are working.

The county's mosquito trucks will be out over the next two to three weeks spraying pesticide to try and control the mosquito population.

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