Hantavirus Fatality Confirmed in New Mexico Woman

SANTA FE -- A fatal case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome has been confirmed in an adult woman from McKinley County. The case was confirmed by testing done at the University of New Mexicos Health Sciences Center and TriCore Reference Laboratories. An environmental investigation of potential exposure sites is being conducted. New Mexicos last case of Hantavirus was in a man from Sandoval County in July 2004. The man recovered. The last Hantavirus fatality in New Mexico was in 2000.


Our sympathies go out to this womans family at this time, said Michelle Lujan Grisham, secretary-designate of the New Mexico Department of Health. All New Mexicans should be aware of this disease and take precautions to avoid rodents and their droppings. This is especially important at this time of year when the cold weather is causing rodents to seek shelter and food in homes and other buildings.


The New Mexico Department of Health urges healthcare workers and the general public throughout the state to familiarize themselves with Hantavirus, especially in people who have been exposed to rodents or their droppings. The virus is excreted in urine, saliva and feces of rodents, especially the deer mouse, the main reservoir for Hantavirus in New Mexico. Early symptoms of Hantavirus are fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cough. These symptoms develop within one to six weeks after rodent exposure. Although there is no specific treatment for Hantavirus, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early.


The best preventive measure people can take is to avoid contact with mice and other rodents.


Source: New Mexico Department of Health