The Crestone Eagle, October 2003:

West Nile is here! 3 in SLV infected
by Linda Spade

Stepping out your door next spring is starting to look like playing Russian roulette. West Nile virus has claimed 40 lives in Colorado as of September 24.

West Nile continues to spread throughout Colorado, with 3 non-fatal cases cases reported in the San Luis Valley— one of those from Saguache County.

West Nile virus began its spread in the United States in 1999 in New York. A comprehensive report in the June 2003 issue of The Crestone Eagle showed its spread west from New York to the front range in Colorado. As of late July it had been detected on the western slope and now covers all of Colorado. The 40 deaths are among 1,886 human cases of West Nile virus reported in Colorado for 2003. Even with my rudimentary math skills, it looks like 2% of those who contract the virus die from it. According to “Fight the Bite” (brochure available at Moffat Family Clinic) “it is very rare to catch this virus, and most infected people will not even get sick or will only experience mild flu-like symptoms.” There is no human vaccine for the virus, as yet.

Mosquito season in Colorado is from late spring to mid-September. West Nile virus risk is highest in August and September, or until the first hard frost when the mosquitoes are killed off. Alamosa Public Health Service Nurse Karen Gasseling “anticipates that next year will be worse”.

September 2 the Valley Courier reported three confirmed cases in the San Luis Valley, none fatal. Alamosa County has received $2000 from a statewide grant from the Centers for Disease Control to fight West Nile virus. They will be using some of those funds to buy light traps for Hooper and Mosca, which determine the highest concentrations of mosquitoes and if the mosquitoes are infected. The remainder of the funds may be saved for next year or to purchase a fogger for Mosca and Hooper to spray mosquitoes.

In Crestone, one of our local celebrities contracted West Denial virus, which is perhaps a more pervasive and virulent form of the disease.

You can access the Colorado Department of Public Health web site at, and the Center for Disease Control’s web site at westnile/index.htm. More information on West Nile virus can be found on the Web at or by calling the Colorado Health Education Line for the Public at 1-877-462-2911. The statewide, toll-free hotline, which is staffed by trained operators, is open from 7am-11pm, seven days a week.

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