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Home News Hantavirus Case in a Sandoval County Woman
David Morgan
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Hantavirus Case in a Sandoval County Woman

February 4, 2016 - Zoonotic Diseases - Disease

First Documented Hantavirus Case in New Mexico for 2016

The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 37-year-old woman from Sandoval County is hospitalized with laboratory confirmed Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This is the first case of HPS in New Mexico this year. An environmental investigation will be conducted at the home of the patient to help reduce the risk to others.

“This case early in the year emphasizes that precautions against HPS need to be taken year round,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “I want all New Mexicans to make sure they follow our prevention guidelines to keep themselves and their families safe.”

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 reservoir for Sin Nombre virus, the Hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.

“Mice are attracted to the food, water, and warmth inside of homes during the cold weather and can enter homes through cracks and holes as small as the size of a dime,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the department’s public health veterinarian. “Disturbing areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings, can cause the virus to be stirred up into the air where the particles can be breathed in. To be safe, wet down droppings with a disinfectant and wait 10 minutes before cleaning them up.”

The Department of Health urges health-care workers and the general 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:
  • Seal up any hole or cracks where mice can enter your home
  • 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 around your home where mice can nest
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where mice can get to it

In 2015, New Mexico had one case of HPS in a 53-year-old woman from Taos County who survived. In 2014 New Mexico identified six HPS cases with 3 fatalities.

Since it was first discovered in 1993, New Mexico has reported a total of 102 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 690 cases in 35 states.

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

Media Contact

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Un caso de hantavirus en una mujer del condado de Sandoval