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Kenny Vigil
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Hantavirus Case in a San Juan County Man

September 17, 2014 - Zoonotic Diseases - Disease

Fourth Documented Hantavirus Case in New Mexico for 2014

The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 50-year-old man from San Juan County is hospitalized with laboratory confirmed Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This is the fourth case of Hantavirus 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 is another reminder that Hantavirus is present in deer mice in New Mexico,” 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 from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.”

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.

“The best defense against Hantavirus is to avoid disturbing areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department’s public health veterinarian. “It’s best to air out cabins and sheds before entering them and wet down droppings with a disinfectant. As the weather gets colder rodents will try to move indoors for shelter and food, so sealing up small holes and cracks in residential buildings is very important to prevent mice from getting inside.”

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, 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:

  • Air out closed up buildings before entering.
  • Don’t sweep up rodent droppings into the air where they can be inhaled.
  • Seal up any holes in your 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.

This is the 4th case of Hantavirus in New Mexico this year. Other cases this year include a fatal case in a 67 year-old woman from San Juan County, a fatal case in a 59 year-old man from McKinley County, and a case in a 32 year-old woman from San Juan County who survived.

In 2013 New Mexico identified three Hantavirus cases including a 12 year-old boy from McKinley County who died in December, a 45 year-old woman from McKinley County who survived and a 73 year-old woman from Santa Fe County who died in October. In 2012, New Mexico reported one case of Hantavirus, which resulted in the death of a 20-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County. In 2011, New Mexico identified 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.

Since it was first discovered in 1993, New Mexico has reported a total of 98 lab-confirmed Hantavirus cases with 41 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 639 cases with a fatality rate of 36 percent.

For more information please visit the Hantavirus section of our website.


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Un Caso de Hantavirus en un Hombre del Condado de San Juan