New Mexico Announces Fourth Hantavirus Case

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The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 61-year-old woman from Taos County is hospitalized at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This is the fourth case of Hantavirus in New Mexico this year.

"All New Mexicans should be aware of this disease and take precautions to avoid rodents and their droppings," said Dr. C. Mack Sewell, State Epidemiologist for the New Mexico Department of Health. "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. It is important to seal up homes and other structures that are used by people."

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 carrier of Hantavirus in New Mexico. The Department of Health urges health-care workers and the general public to learn the symptoms of Hantavirus.

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.

To protect yourself, avoid contact with mice and other rodents. Other important steps are:

* Air out closed up buildings before entering.

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* 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.

The three previous Hantavirus cases in 2009 were in a 25-year-old woman from Santa Fe County and a 65-year-old man from San Miguel County who have both recovered from the disease and a

22-year-old man from Rio Arriba County who is currently hospitalized. In 2008, New Mexico had two cases of Hantavirus, both fatal, from Taos and Otero counties.

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