Hantavirus discovery now 20 years old

Posted at: 04/24/2013 8:40 PM | Updated at: 04/24/2013 8:41 PM
By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A woman is now out of UNM hospital after being treated for Hantavirus.

This is the first case this year, and it comes just before the twentieth anniversary of the disease being discovered in New Mexico.

Paul Ettestad was one of the first responders to go to the Four Corners, where a mysterious outbreak in 1993, caused a public scare.

 “We had calls from people that drove through New Mexico kept their windows open and didn't want to stop because they were afraid of being in New Mexico,” said Ettestad.

It was Hantavirus; spread through the urine and droppings of deer mice.

According to the Department of Health, since the virus was discovered twenty years ago, 92 cases have led to 37 deaths and that's the highest of any state in the nation.

And for those who have suffered the disease, there's always support.

Marjorie McConnell started the “Hantavirus Survivors” Facebook page where they can share their stories of survival .

"I think the best benefit is that they can just talk to each other and relate to each other," said McConnell.

Even though there's no cure, there are ways to prevent Hantavirus from spreading.

Air out any space where deer mice can hide during the winter to get rid of droppings or urine.

Don't leave food out that would attract mice, and seal any holes in your home and your garage that mice can find.

Marjorie McConnell organized a 'reunion' for all the survivors last year. where they were able to finally meet face to face after only communicating online.

 “It was a very big family moment for them, they consider each other family now,” she said.

A family brought together by a deadly disease.

Some of the symptoms of Hantavirus are nausea, fever and headaches.

The best way to treat Hantavirus is get medical attention as soon as possible.

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