Santa Fe, NM (KTSM) — The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 12-year-old boy from McKinley County died of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
This is the third case of Hantavirus in New Mexico this year and the second death.
An environmental investigation will be conducted at the home of the patient to help reduce the risk to others.
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 most commonly found in New Mexico.
“People are usually exposed to Hantavirus around their homes, especially when they clean out enclosed areas that have lots of mouse droppings,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department of Health’s public health veterinarian.
“With the cold weather, mice may try to enter buildings for shelter so it is important to seal up homes and other structures that are used by people. Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime.”
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
• Trap mice until they are all gone
• Clean up nests and droppings using a disinfectant
• Don’t sweep up rodent droppings into the air where they can be inhaled
• 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 previous 2013 New Mexico hantavirus infections were in 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 had one case of Hantavirus, which resulted in the death of 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.
Since it was first discovered in 1993, New Mexico has had a total of 94 lab-confirmed Hantavirus cases with 39 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 624 cases with a fatality rate of 36 percent.
For more information about Hantavirus, visit the Department’s website: http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/hantavirus.html