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Published On: Sun, Sep 8th, 2019

New Mexico teen dies from hantavirus, 3rd case in McKinley County this year

By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

New Mexico state health officials are reporting the death of a 15-year-old McKinley County boy from hantavirus disease. This is the third case of hantavirus in New Mexico this year and the second death.

Deer Mouse
Image/CDC

All three hantavirus disease cases in 2019 have been in McKinley County. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has previously reported the death of a 42-year-old woman and a 50-year-old woman who survived.

“We want to make sure people know how to protect themselves from hantavirus so no other family has to endure this kind of tragedy,” said New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “People need to avoid contact with mice and other rodents and be careful when cleaning up and avoid disturbing rodent droppings and nests.”

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a severe, respiratory disease in humans that is fatal in approximately 40 percent of cases.

In New Mexico, the deer mouse is the main carrier for Sin Nombre virus, the hantavirus strain, as it can be transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva that contain the microscopic virus. People can contract the disease when they breathe in virus that is suspended in the air, but it is not contagious from one person to another.

Early symptoms of hantavirus infection may look and feel like the flu or a “stomach bug” and include fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cough which progresses to respiratory distress and severe illness.


Symptoms typically develop within one to six weeks after rodent exposure, and although there is no specific treatment for HPS, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early and the healthcare provider is given a report about environmental contact with rodents or other travel history.

Hantavirus disease surveillance in the United States began in 1993 during an outbreak of severe respiratory illness in the Four Corners region.

Through 2018, 764 cases of hantavirus disease have been reported. These are all laboratory-confirmed cases and include hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and non-pulmonary hantavirus infection.

New Mexico has reported the most cases of any state with 117 to date.

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To prevent contracting hantavirus, follow 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 percent bleach solution before cleaning them up
  • 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
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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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