Hantavirus case confirmed in McKinley Co.

Posted at: 04/19/2013 2:56 PM
By: KOB.com Staff

The New Mexico Health Department confirmed Friday that a 45-year-old McKinley County woman has contracted the first case of the Hantavirus this year in the state.

The patient has been hospitalized at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she is listed as being in satisfactory condition, according to a press release from the state Health Department.

The press release states that May will mark the 20th anniversary of the sometimes fatal disease's appearance in the state. In 1993, a massive investigation by public health officials from federal, state, and local agencies quickly discovered that a previously unknown Hantavirus was the cause of the illnesses, and the deer mouse was mainly responsible for excreting the virus in its droppings and urine.

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

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. The symptoms develop within one to six weeks after rodent exposure.

There is no treatment for Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, however, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early.

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.

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