West Nile: Augusta man's death state's first

A 79-year-old Augusta County man is likely the first West Nile death in Virginia, health officials said.

The man, whose name was not released, died last week, said Douglas Larsen, health director of the Central Shenandoah Health District.

Official results will not be available for several weeks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"We were so excited when we got through mid-September,'' Larsen said on October 2. "And then, boom, this case came about.''

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there have been 10 West Nile cases this year. That's compared to 29 people who contracted the disease in 2002, two of whom died.

Nationwide there have been 5,861 cases and 115 deaths.

People over 50 who spend time outdoors are most susceptible.

The coming cold weather should help control the mosquito activity, Larsen said.

The state will also conduct aerial spraying to control the mosquito population, which was anticipated to explode after Hurricane Isabel.