3 More Cases Of West
Nile-Like Virus Hit Colorado

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello Jeff: I really wish that I had been wrong in the Spring when I stated we would have a very nasty West Nile LIKE Virus season. I wish that I was wrong about the bumper crop of ticks, fleas and mosquitos. This season is turning out to be a nasty vectored disease season. Cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis are at above record numbers and the disease is making a northward push from Florida to New Jersey. We are also seeing other viruses in the news, such as St. Louis Encephalitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis. We are only beginning the season.
By Jim Erickson
Rocky Mountain News
Three more human cases of West Nile illness were confirmed in Colorado on Thursday, and a state health official said two of the patients likely contracted a severe form that can produce long-lasting neurological effects.
The latest cases bring Colorado's 2003 West Nile total to four, vaulting the state nearly to the top of the national list for early-season cases of the illness.
Jefferson, Pueblo and Otero counties each reported one case of West Nile illness Thursday. A 28-year-old Weld County man became the state's first 2003 human West Nile case on Tuesday.
All four patients are recovering at home. According to the state health department, the three latest cases involve:
A 56-year-old Lakewood woman who was hospitalized.
A 45-year-old Otero County woman who was treated in a hospital emergency room.
A 48-year-old Pueblo County man who was hospitalized. Suspected human West Nile cases have been reported in Larimer and Phillips counties but have not been verified by the state health department lab in Denver.
Only about 20 percent of those bitten by West Nile-infected mosquitoes become ill. Symptoms of the mild form of the illness, which is known as West Nile fever, include fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms typically last a few days.
About one in 150 infected people will develop a serious neurological illness such as meningitis or encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain; meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord.
People over 50 are at the highest risk of contracting the most serious forms of West Nile illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 56-year-old Jefferson County woman and the 48-year-old Pueblo County man probably developed West Nile meningitis, said John Pape, a state health dep artment epidemiologist. An investigation is under way, he said.
The first laboratory tests on the Pueblo County man were done July 20, and he was initially diagnosed with viral meningitis, Pape said. That disease is typically characterized by high fever, stiff neck, severe headache and elevated levels of proteins, sugars and white blood cells in the spinal fluid.
Additional testing of the man's blood and spinal fluid revealed antibodies to West Nile on Thursday, Pape said. The man lives in the St. Charles Mesa area of rural Pueblo County, said Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department.
Symptoms of the severe forms of West Nile illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. The symptoms can last several weeks, and neurological effects can be permanent, according to the CDC. In a related development on Thursday, Denver's Bonfils Blood Center reported that blood from 13 donors has tested positive for West Nile in preliminary results from an experimental screening test that went into use July 1.
All the blood that tested positive has been quarantined; none of it has been given to patients, said Jessica Maitland, a Bonfils vice president.
Confirmatory tests have begun, and some results may be released on Monday, Maitland said.
Two equine cases of West Nile have been confirmed in Montezuma and La Plata counties in Colorado's southwestern corner, "indicating that this year's virus has crossed the mountains and now is being identified on the Western Slope," according a state health department news release. Both horses are recovering.
West Nile was first detected in Colorado animals in mid-August of last year, and the state's first human case was reported a month later.
Colorado ended the year with 14 non-fatal human cases of West Nile illness.
Nine of the cases were West Nile fever, four were West Nile meningitis, and one was West Nile encephalitis, Pape said.
Last year, more than 4,100 Americans were sickened by West Nile and 284 died. As of Thursday evening, 12 human West Nile cases in eight states had been confirmed by CDC in 2003. Texas led the pack with five cases.
On Tuesday the acting director of the CDC's Fort Collins lab, which heads the nation's public health response to West Nile, warned Colorado residents to "be prepared for a fairly substantial human epidemic" here this summer.,1299,DRMN_15_2134804,00.html
Healthy 27-yr Old Father Knocked Flat By WNV
By Sean Kelly Denver Post Staff Writer 7-26-3
EATON - Behind Josh Watson's new home is an irrigation ditch that brings water to the scenic cornfields north of Greeley.
But the ditch water brings mosquitoes, too. And the biting insects apparently brought West Nile virus home to the 27-year-old Eaton man.
Watson was confirmed this week as the first person to contract West Nile virus in Colorado this year and one of about two dozen nationwide. His symptoms have ranged from body aches to fever to spots covering his body.
"They were everywhere, reddish-purple blotches all over my whole body," Watson said. "It looked like I had been shot 200 times with a BB gun." Although he's still suffering, he's grateful it wasn't worse.
"Thank God it was only me," Watson said, holding his 4-month-old daughter, Laine, on his lap Wednesday night. "Thank God it wasn't my family. I feel like I'm strong enough to fight it off."
Watson is the first of four confirmed cases of the virus this year in Colorado, and two more are suspected, said state epidemiologist John Pape.
West Nile infected more than 4,000 people in 20 states last year, killing 284.
With twin daughters, an infant and his wife of three years, Watson is smothered with love, a young father with a young family in a new home. He installs fire sprinklers for a living and enjoys sports and the outdoors.
But he's been sick for nearly three weeks now, with little energy for his family and friends. The disease is not contagious, but it causes severe symptoms.
Watson may have meningitis now and underwent an MRI test Thursday. If the symptoms get worse, he could undergo a spinal tap.
For more information on West Nile virus, call a newly established state hotline at 877-462-2911 or visit
In severe cases, the virus can cause encephalitis and even polio- like paralysis. It can lead to death, particularly among the elderly.
Because it is a virus, there is no cure and it must run its course.
Antibiotics do nothing. Watson was sent home with Tylenol for his aches and pains.
So far, Watson has lost eight pounds off his muscular 208-pound frame.
"It felt like I got hit by a truck," Watson said. "Now the symptoms just come and go. They linger around. Sometimes I feel OK, and sometimes I don't feel good at all."
From its onset July 6, the virus has confounded Watson and his doctors.
He woke that morning with a raging fever and sweated through the sheets. He was visiting family in Canon City over the July Fourth weekend, and struggled to make it home to Eaton.
Along with the fever came a sore throat, diarrhea and severe body aches.
"I hurt all over, my eyes, my neck, my back. I've never been so sore. It was like the flu, only way, way worse," he said.
Watson first went to the doctor on July 9.
"He had a lot more than normal flu symptoms. It was just not compatible with garden-variety flu," said Dr. David Kang, of Ault Family Care, in the town of Ault, west of Eaton.
Through an infectious-disease specialist in Greeley, Watson underwent a host of blood tests for everything from the hantavirus to a rabbit-borne virus.
He and his wife, Jennifer, a pediatric nurse in Fort Collins, laughed about West Nile as they wondered what had made him sick.
"We even joked about it," his wife said. "We're not laughing now."
Over the next couple days, Watson grew worse and worse. When he went back to Kang on July 11, he was seriously ill with spots all over his body.
Kang told him to go immediately to the infectious-disease specialist and ask for a West Nile test. He did, and it came back positive Tuesday.
"I couldn't believe it. What are the odds?" Watson said. "I'm just glad to know what is for sure."
The West Nile virus emerged in the United States in 1999. It was first identified in New York and has marched westward, first appearing in Colorado in 2002. Experts think wild birds carried the virus west along rivers.
Yet no one knows how it got started in the United States, said Pape, the state epidemiologist. One possibility is that foreign mosquitoes carried it over on airplanes or cargo ships, he said.
The virus goes from bird to bird using mosquitoes as carriers. Humans and horses are "accidental" victims, Pape said.
Pape said Watson's symptoms are serious but could be worse.
"He's sick, but as West Nile goes he's probably in the mild to moderate range," Pape said.
Although he's struggled with symptoms for nearly three weeks, Watson has missed only three days of work.
"I've got three kids and a mortgage. I can't be sick. I can't miss work," he explained.
Since last week, Watson said, he's kept the girls - Laine, and twins Magi and Maci, who are almost 2 - in the house as much as possible. When the twins do go outside, he makes sure they wear mosquito repellent.
Watson was infected sometime in early July. The first case in Colorado last year was not reported until mid-September.
Health experts say that could indicate a bad year for West Nile in Colorado. The virus has been confirmed most often in Eaton, Severance, Windsor and north Greeley, county officials said.
Weld County is spending more than $741,000 to treat mosquito breeding grounds with larvicide and has sprayed mosquito-killing fog along 350 miles of roads, according to the county's health department.
The tall grass and weeds along the road behind Watson's house recently were cut. But it was too late for him. Doctors tell Watson he may suffer symptoms for weeks or months more.
"I want to feel normal," Watson said. "I'm just tired of being sick."
All contents Copyright 2003 The Denver Post or other copyright holders. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed for any commercial purpose.,1413,36~24167~1532078,00.html
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health



This Site Served by TheHostPros