Published On: Tue, Dec 10th, 2013

New Mexico: 12-year-old McKinley County boy is state’s second death due to hantavirus


New Mexico health officials announced today the death of a 12-year-old McKinley County boy due to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).

This is the third case of Hantavirus in New Mexico this year and the second death.

Health officials are investigating the environment around the child’s home to help reduce the risk to others.

Deer Mouse Image/CDC

Deer Mouse

“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 Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. 

 “People need to avoid contact with mice and other rodents. They need to use caution when cleaning up

 droppings and nests.”

Hantavirus is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptoms similar to influenza.

Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick.

It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with the dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time.

“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 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.”

Hantavirus does not spread between humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides the symptoms of hantavirus between “early” and “late” symptoms.


Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.

There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.

Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a “…tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face” as the lungs fill with fluid.

HPS has a mortality rate of 38% according to the agency.

The previous 2013 New Mexico hantavirus infections were in a 45 year‐old woman from McKinley County who survived and a 73 year‐old woman from Santa Fe County who died in October.


Since it was first discovered in 1993, New Mexico has had a total of 94 lab‐confirmed Hantavirus cases with 39 deaths, the highest number of cases for any state in the nation.


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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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  1. Biological Hazard – State of New Mexico, [McKinley Count] : Hanta Virus | Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News says:

    […] New Mexico: 12-year-old McKinley County boy is state’s second death due to hantavirus […]

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