New Mexico Announces First NM Hantavirus Case This Year

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Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

The New Mexico Health Department announced that a 59-year-old woman from Taos County is hospitalized at University Hospital with the state's first case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome this year. The woman is in critical condition.

The Department of Health is conducting an environmental investigation to determine where the woman may have been exposed to the virus.

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"As warmer weather occurs, people need to air out their cabins and sheds before entering them for the first time," said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the department's state public health veterinarian. "The best defense against Hantavirus is to avoid disturbing areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings." 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 Hantavirus in New Mexico. The Department of Health urges health-care workers and the general public to familiarize themselves with 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:

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