FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) – The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday visited the Colorado region hardest hit by the deadly West Nile virus to deliver a check for $500,000 and urge residents to use insect repellent and stay away from stagnant water.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) – The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday visited the Colorado region hardest hit by the deadly West Nile virus to deliver a check for $500,000 and urge residents to use insect repellent and stay away from stagnant water.Colorado, which is in its second year of the virus, has reported seven deaths, all among elderly women. Colorado has been the hardest hit state in the U.S. in terms of deaths.”I came to Colorado because it’s at the leading edge of the epidemic. We realize the problem is here and now,” Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Atlanta-based CDC said after presenting the check to state officials.The money brings the federal government’s contribution to Colorado to $800,000, which is well short of the $4.5 million that state officials had sought.Gerberding said a human vaccine for West Nile will be ready for testing by the end of the year, although the scientific advance will not help this year’s outbreak.”We’ll be meeting with local officials over the next few days to see how best to allocate the monies,” said Douglas Benevento, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.The disease was imported into the United States in 1999 and arrived in Colorado last year.The second year of the disease tends to be much tougher to combat because birds, which are infected and spread the disease, have not developed an immunity yet.The northern part of Colorado has been the hardest hit and officials in Weld and Larimer counties have declared public health emergencies, allowing them to spray areas without seeking property owners’ permission.The CDC puts the number of dead in Colorado at six — out of a total of 10 deaths nationwide and 263 confirmed cases. Colorado puts the number of cases in the state at 492. Gerberding attributed the discrepancy to the way the cases are reported.Colorado usually does not have a significant problem with mosquitoes, the way more humid areas do, so local officials have had to crank up education and spraying programs. Local residents are urged to use repellent, stay indoors in the evening and keep away from stagnant waters.(Source: Reuters, Thu August 21, 2003 08:08 PM ET, By Keith Coffman)