LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — West Nile virus has claimed the life of a popular environmental activist in Long Beach.

Robert Palmer, 68, one of the founders of the Long Beach chapter of the environmental group Surfrider Foundation, died Friday. Long Beach health officials reported his death on Wednesday.

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He was passionate about cleaning up beaches and lowering the breakwater.

Palmer’s sudden death is now bringing attention to another important issue: West Nile virus.

Palmer is one of at least four Californians who died from the illness this summer. So far this year there have been nearly 90 human cases of West Nile reported across the state.

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Experts say the heavy rains this winter have led to more mosquitos. With a higher number of them testing positive for the virus.

Palmer’s friends say he would want to urge people who spend time outdoors to protect themselves from mosquitos by wearing insect repellant and removing any standing water near homes.

Palmer was a beloved surfer, businessman, husband and father whose tireless efforts in Long Beach will always be remembered.

Symptoms of West Nile can include fever and nausea. But most people who contract the illness won’t notice any symptoms.

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A memorial service for Palmer will be held this Saturday in Long Beach.