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Published On: Fri, Apr 19th, 2013

New Mexico reports first hantavirus case of 2013 in McKinley County woman

New Mexico health officials have reported the first case of hantavirus in the state this year. The patient is a  45-year-old McKinley County woman who is currently being treated in a Albuquerque hospital, according to a health department press release today.

hantavirus, Peromyscus maniculatus

Peromyscus maniculatus Image/CDC

We are thankful that this woman is recovering,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Retta Ward, MPH. “I am asking all New Mexicans to follow our prevention guidelines to keep themselves and their families safe, as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome can be a serious and sometimes fatal disease.”

According to a press release, New Mexico had one case of Hantavirus last year, which was fatal, in a 20-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County. In 2011, New Mexico had 5 cases of Hantavirus. Three of the 5 cases were fatal including a 51-year-old woman from McKinley County, a 35-year-old man from Torrance County, and a 23-year-old man from McKinley County.

New Mexico has had a total of 92 lab-confirmed Hantavirus cases with 37 fatalities since the disease was discovered, the highest number of cases for any state in the nation. Nationally, since 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a total of 617 cases with a fatality rate of 35 percent.

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

Rodents, especially deer mice, carry Hantavirus. 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.

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, andabdominal 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.

To protect yourself, avoid contact with mice and other rodents. Other important steps are:

  • Air out closed-up buildings before entering
  • Seal-up homes and cabins so mice can’t enter
  • Trap mice until they are all gone
  • Clean up nests and droppings using a disinfectant
  • 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 best defense against being infected with Hantavirus is to avoid disturbing areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department’s Public Health Veterinarian.

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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. New Mexico: Santa Fe County woman dies from hantavirus - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] This is the second case of HPS in New Mexico this year. The first case was reported in April in a McKinley County woman. […]

  2. Natura Pet Products expands dry pet food recall due to potential Salmonella … | Nebraska News Feed says:

    […] […]

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