West Nile kills three more in Colorado; state hardest-hit by virus so far this year

Thursday, August 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Three more people have died of complications from the West Nile virus in Colorado, bringing the statewide total to four, health officials said.

Two Pueblo County women, ages 83 and 84, died last week, Jane Anne Hollandsworth of the Pueblo City-County Health Department said Wednesday. Their names were not released. Family members identified the other victim as JoAnn Marie Kesler, 68, of Fort Collins, who died Sunday.

The state has 111 confirmed human cases of West Nile this year, more than any other state, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. There are an additional 99 suspected cases.

Nationwide, at least seven people have died from West Nile this year. Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming are the westernmost states to report human cases of the disease this year. Of those, only Colorado has had fatalities.

The disease has spread westward across the country since it was first found in New York City in 1999. There were 4,156 human cases in the United States last year, including 284 deaths. Officials expect the virus to eventually spread to every state.

The first West Nile victim confirmed by Colorado officials, 77-year-old Maria Flores of Greeley, died Friday.

Kesler had multiple sclerosis and was bedridden for two years, said her husband, Dr. Kelly Kesler. He said she may have contracted the disease from a mosquito bite while they sat on their deck to watch the sunset.

``We had citronella candles, a smoke generator and a $400 super mosquito zapper. We put on all kinds of (insect repellant),'' he said. ``It wasn't enough, even though we did what we could.''