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Home News Hantavirus Death of McKinley County Man
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
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Hantavirus Death of McKinley County Man

December 4, 2014 - Zoonotic Diseases - Disease

The New Mexico Department of Health announced today a 28-year-old man from McKinley County has died of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). A 49-year-old man from Otero County is still hospitalized with HPS but is improving. Including these recent cases, New Mexico this year has had a total of six HPS cases. Three of them resulting in death.

Hantavirus is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva. People can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. The deer mouse is the main carrier for Sin Nombre virus, the Hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.

“Each year our state has a few cases of Hantavirus,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Retta Ward, MPH. “While cases are rare, they often have tragic consequences. There are important steps people can take to lower the risk of contracting this dangerous illness.”

“People are usually exposed to Hantavirus around their homes, especially when they clean out enclosed areas that have lots of mouse droppings,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department of Health’s public health veterinarian. “With the cold weather, mice may try to enter buildings for food and shelter, so it is important to seal up homes and other structures that are used by people. Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime.”

The Department of Health urges health-care workers and the public to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of Hantavirus. Early symptoms of Hantavirus infection include fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and cough which progresses to respiratory distress. These symptoms develop within one to six weeks after rodent exposure. Although there is no specific treatment for HPS, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early.

Important steps to follow to prevent contracting Hantavirus include:

  • Trap mice until they are all gone
  • Clean up nests and droppings using a disinfectant
  • Don’t sweep up rodent droppings into the air where they can be inhaled
  • Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home
  • Get rid of trash and junk piles
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where mice can get to it

The other 4 of the 6 cases of HPS in New Mexico in 2014 include a fatal case in a 67-year-old woman from San Juan County, a 32-year-old woman from San Juan County who recovered, a fatal case in a 59-year-old man from McKinley County, and a 50-year-old man from San Juan County who recovered.

Since it was first discovered in 1993, New Mexico has reported a total of 100 lab-confirmed HPS cases with 42 deaths, the highest number of cases for any state in the nation. Nationally, since 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a total of 639 cases with a fatality rate of 36 percent.

Please visit the Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome section of our website for more information.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

Versión en Español

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Un Hombre Muerto por Hantavirus en el Condado de McKinley