West Nile diagnosis proves false

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— Routt County has not had a human infection of West Nile virus, despite a report that a Hayden man contracted the virus.

Lori Maldonado, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said no cases have been confirmed in the county. Only one horse and one bird in the county tested positive for the virus last summer, but local health officials said it was likely that the horse contracted the virus while in the Front Range.

The state saw more the 2,830 human infections and 54 human deaths due to the virus last year. Nearby Moffat County had two human infections last summer.

Hayden resident Don Driscoll, 64, said he was diagnosed with West Nile virus when he was admitted to a Denver hospital in October. During that diagnosis, he also learned he had cancer of the lymphatic system and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Maldonado said Driscoll's lab test, submitted to the state to confirm the West Nile diagnosis, turned out to be negative. Driscoll was not counted as a positive West Nile case in the state's tally.

Susan Bowler, regional public health nurse manager for the Visiting Nurse Association, said there are two tests doctors conduct for West Nile virus. Both test for antibodies that fight the virus. The IGG test reports older infections, while the IGM test reports newer infections that have taken hold within the past 500 days, Bowler said.

The state only accepts a positive result for the IGM test as verification that a person has West Nile virus. If a doctor uses the IGG test, it's possible that a person can be told he or she has the virus without the state counting the case, Bowler said.

Bowler also said that patients recently vaccinated against or recently infected with related flaviviruses may appear to have West Nile virus, but actually will not.

Driscoll, whose family said they believed he got the virus in Hayden, could not be reached for comment Monday.


-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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