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Colorado's West Nile Cases Appear Earlier This Season

June 12, 2004|From Associated Press

DENVER — Officials Friday announced the first human cases of the West Nile virus in Colorado this season, and both victims, in their 30s, are recovering.

"These new cases do not come as a surprise," said Douglas Benevento, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "We have been preparing for the reemergence of West Nile virus and want to strongly remind Coloradans that this is a preventable illness."

The first case involved a 35-year-old woman from Adams County, who became ill with a fever May 30. She was not hospitalized, the health department said.

A 30-year-old man from Pueblo County became ill with a fever June 2. He also was not hospitalized.

The virus was first identified in Colorado in August 2002. Last year, the state led the nation with 2,947 infections and 63 deaths.

Health officials said the recent warm weather was likely to blame for the early human cases, the first of which was reported a month earlier than last year.

They said that did not necessarily mean it would be a bad year.

Most people who contract the mosquito-borne disease recover. The virus can cause paralysis, inflammation of the brain and lingering pain.

West Nile virus has been moving across the United States from east to west since it was first identified in the United States in 1999 in New York.

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