(FOX40.COM) — Sacramento County health officials reported on Wednesday the first death of a person this year in connection with West Nile Virus.

The person was in their 70s and had an “underlying chronic disease,” according to a statement from Sacramento County Public Health.

The person had been hospitalized with “neuroinvasive West Nile Virus,” the agency said.

“This is a reminder that West Nile Virus is a serious disease and unfortunately, can result in death, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems,” read a statement from Olivia Kasirye, the health officer for the county.  

Public health officials say that as of August 23, 16 additional cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed or are being investigated in the county.

In early July, vector control officials said West Nile Virus activity had been increasing in Sacramento, and dead birds had been found in two parts of the city that tested positive for the virus.

In recent weeks, multiple health departments and vector control agencies in the Sacramento area have reported cases of West Nile Virus in humans.

Four people in Stanislaus County developed neurological illness after being infected with West Nile Virus, according to county officials.

West Nile Virus is usually transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite, and mosquitoes are usually infected when they feed on infected birds.

Health officials said that about 80 percent of people with the virus may not show any symptoms and not even realize they have been infected.

Nevertheless, people should take precautions, especially those over 50 years of age or who have compromised immune systems.

Officials say the best ways to prevent infection are to use insect repellent, make sure doors and windows are closed or have tight-fitting screens, all standing water is emptied, and people should avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk and wear long sleeves and pants.