A 90-year-old Mesa County woman has become the first person to die from West Nile virus-related complications in Colorado this season.
State health officials confirm the unidentified Grand Junction resident died July 31st of encephalitis. The potentially deadly inflammation of the brain affects about one in 150 people who contract West Nile virus.
Mesa County had 49 of the state's 94 confirmed cases of West Nile as of Thursday. Thirteen cases were reported Thursday alone.
The first Colorado death from West Nile didn't occur last season until August 1st. The season ended with 2,947 reported cases and 63 deaths.
State epidemiologist John Pape had predicted the Western Slope and the San Luis Valley would be hit hard this year.