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Home News New Mexico reports first hantavirus pulmonary syndrome case of 2024
David Morgan
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New Mexico reports first hantavirus pulmonary syndrome case of 2024

February 20, 2024 - Zoonotic Diseases - Safety

SANTA FE – The Scientific Laboratory Division of the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has confirmed the first case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) this year. A man living in San Juan County was hospitalized, released, and is at home recovering. 
HPS, however, is often a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease in humans caused by the Sin Nombre virus. In 2023, New Mexico had seven cases of HPS in residents of McKinley, San Juan and Taos counties, with two of these patients dying. 
In New Mexico, deer mice are the primary carriers of hantavirus. The virus is found in mice droppings and urine, and individuals are typically exposed to hantavirus around their homes, cabins or sheds, especially when cleaning out or exploring enclosed areas with mouse droppings.

“Mice tend to try to enter buildings to find shelter, so it is important to seal up homes and other structures,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Erin Phipps, DVM, MPH. “While there is no specific treatment for HPS, the chances of recovery are better when medical attention is sought early, and the healthcare provider is informed about any environmental contact with rodents.” 

Symptoms typically develop within one to six weeks after rodent exposure and may look and feel like the flu or a stomach bug. Individuals with HPS may experience fever and muscle aches, possibly accompanied by chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cough, which can progress to respiratory distress and severe illness. 

Avoid exposure to rodents and their nests – and reduce the risk of contracting hantavirus – by following these important steps:

  • Air out closed‐up buildings such as cabins and sheds, as well as abandoned or stored vehicles before entering.
  • Trap mice until they are all gone. 
  • Seal up homes and shelters to prevent rodents from entering.
  • Soak nests and droppings with a disinfectant such as a 10% bleach solution before cleaning them up.
  • Do not 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.
  • Dispose of trash and junk piles.
  • Do not leave your pet’s food and water where mice can access it. 

For more information about this virus, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, visit the Department of Health’s HPS webpage

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Nuevo México registra el primer caso de síndrome pulmonar por hantavirus de 2024