Two West Nile Virus Deaths Confirmed in Montrose County
by Gus Jarvis
Sep 04, 2012 | 3212 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MONTROSE – Montrose County Health and Human Services confirmed Tuesday that two Montrose County residents have died from complications associated with West Nile virus encephalitis.

These are the first two West Nile virus-related deaths in Colorado this year.

“We are saddened to lose someone to a West Nile infection,” said Peg Mewes, director of the Montrose County Health and Human Services, in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon. “Our thoughts are with the families during this difficult time.”

Mewes said her office will not be releasing the names or ages of the victims, “to protect their families.”

She did say, however, that while everyone is susceptible to acquiring West Nile from a mosquito, very young children and elderly people are more apt to develop complications from the virus.

To date, there are 33 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Colorado, and six in Montrose County. The two Montrose County deaths comes just over a week after The Watch reported that a stream of West Nile cases hit Delta County.

Mewes believes there is nothing unique about current conditions that have caused the outbreak.

“I am really surprised at the number of individuals diagnosed with it, given how dry it’s been this summer,” she said. “I recently heard that these mosquitoes can lie dormant longer than others, and that may be one reason we are seeing more of them now.”

Health officials warn that culex mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus in Colorado will be active for as long as the weather is warm.

Although 80 percent of people who contract the West Nile virus won't show any symptoms, the virus causes a potentially serious illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Initial symptoms of West Nile virus infection include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, weakness and rash.  

Some individuals may become seriously ill with encephalitis, swelling of the brain or meningitis, a swelling of the brain’s lining or the spinal cord. Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, vision loss, paralysis, and even death.

If a person or someone in their family develops symptoms, they should contact their health-care provider.

Health Officials recommend the following to prevent mosquito bites and being infected with mosquito borne disease:

• Drain standing water on property at least every 5-7 days to reduce mosquito breeding potential.

• Avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.

• DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in mosquito repellent.

• Dress in long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn and use insect repellent in areas where mosquitoes are active.

• Make sure all doors and windows that are left open in the house are tightly screened.

“This tragic event underscores how serious West Nile virus can be and why it is important to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites by using effective mosquito repellent and wearing appropriate clothing,” Mewes said.

For more information on West Nile virus call the Help hotline at 877/462-2911 or visit


Twitter: @gusgusj

Comments-icon Post a Comment
September 06, 2012
Ya know, Montrose County is BIG and separated into two parts by a really BIG ridge called the Uncompaghre Plateau.

It would be helpful to us all to know WHERE the infections occurred so that citizens in those areas can be especially careful. Your advice is good for all.

Don't keep it a secret. It looks like you have.