(WGHP) — The first death of the year in North Carolina associated with West Nile Virus has been confirmed, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

In light of the heavy rains coming to the region due to Hurricane Ian, NCDHHS is advising that North Carolinians take precautions to prevent mosquito-borne illness.

This case of West Nile Virus was the ninth case of the year identified in North Carolina. Since 2012, the number of cases reported in the state has ranged from zero to 10.

“This is a tragic reminder that these infections, though relatively rare, can be fatal,” said Michael Doyle, State Public Health Entomologist. “We see most cases of mosquito-borne illness in the months from August through October, so we urge residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

According to the CDC, most people who contract West Nile Virus feel either no symptoms or a mild, flu-like illness. This phenomenon leads to there being over 100 undetected infections for every verified case of the virus.

20% of those who contract West Nile Virus will likely develop the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Joint pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or rash

In about 1% of cases, West Nile Virus can cause much more serious symptoms such as:

  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Meningoencephalitis
  • Possibly death

NCDHHS recommends taking the following precautions to protect you and your loved ones from contracting West Nile Virus:

  • Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when outside in areas where mosquitoes might be present.
  • Install or repair and use window and door screens.
  • Close doors, including garage doors. Do not leave doors propped open.
  • Use air conditioning when possible.
  • Reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least once a week.
    • With the remnants of Hurricane Ian hitting the state this weekend, residents should clear standing water from their homes safely and quickly after the storm passes.
  • If you think you or a family member might have West Nile Virus, talk with your health care provider.