Tennessee Has First Swine Flu Death In State - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Has First Swine Flu Death In State

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - State officials said Tennessee has had its first death from the H1N1 virus. Joey Woodruff died a week ago Monday at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

The 48-year-old Shelbyville man was a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father and an Army veteran.

Woodruff was transferred from a Rutherford County hospital to Vanderbilt on Thursday, July 2. He died 4 days later.

One week after his funeral, friends and family learn Woodruff was the first fatal case of the H1N1 virus in Tennessee.

Loved ones find comfort in his commitment to church. Lifelong friend Darryl Lewis visited Woodruff at Vanderbilt as he battled the mystery illness even doctors had trouble pinpointing.

"Joey was a very dedicated Christian and we know where he is. He's all right now, we miss him and we're grieving, but we know he's fine," said Lewis.

Joey Woodruff's wife of less than a-year, Melissa said her husband did have an existing heart condition. Though she's skeptical that had anything to do with his failing health.

The Tennessee Department of Health is working to calm fears about an illness that can be so frightening.

"A large proportion of the people that has died in the last few weeks have been in the middle-age group. Many of them have had underlying health conditions morbid obesity, smoking related, pulmonary disease, asthma," said Dr. Tim Jones, State Department of Health.

Jones said the strain continues to spread in Tennessee and likely will get worse this fall when school begins

The Tennessee Commissioner of Health, Susan Cooper, offered condolences to the family, but insisted containing the flu simply calls for common sense.

"If you are sick with flu like symptoms whether seasonal or H1N1 you need to stay home. If a child is sick you don't need to send them to school," said Cooper.

Health leaders expect more Tennessee casualties before the bug once known as swine flu runs its course.

The State health department said there are 246 confirmed cases of H1N1 Flu in Tennessee. Officials remain optimistic that an H1N1 flu vaccine could be ready by this winter.

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