NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee health officials said the state has recorded its first West Nile Virus death this year.
Health officials said 70-year-old Jimmy Smith, of Antioch, is believed to be the first person to die from the virus in Nashville. Officials said he had other health issues.
His illness was reported last week as the first human case of West Nile Virus in Davidson County.
Officials said his death is a serious reminder to take steps to avoid mosquitoes.
State health department spokeswoman Shelley L. Walker said 29 human cases have been documented in 2012.
A mild case of West Nile can cause flu-like symptoms and a skin rash. But a severe case can cause convulsions, vision loss, numbness, paralysis, coma and even death. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms.
Metro Health Department spokesperson Brian Todd said West Nile is unusual in Nashville. There were no cases 2009-2011 and only seven in the last decade.
So far this year, West Nile has been confirmed in batches of mosquitoes in Antioch, Goodlettsville, Hermitage, Madison, North Nashville, and South Nashville. The Health Department began trapping mosquitoes in all parts of Davidson County and sending them for testing in May.
Their staff conducts surveillance of standing water, and pest management staff applies larvicide when mosquito larvae are present.
Officials said mosquitoes that are known to carry WNV are more active at dusk and nighttime hours.
The first killing frost will end mosquito season. Until then, take steps to avoid mosquitoes, according to health officials.
The Metro Public Health Department has a mosquito control information hotline with a recorded message about mosquito control efforts in Davidson County at 615-340-5668. They also have information available at their website, www.health.nashville.gov, and Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MPHDNashville.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)