A Phillips County, CO man who died this past January actually died from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, the Northeast Colorado Health Department (NCHD) reported earlier this week.

Deer mouse/CDC
Deer mouse/CDC

The death, which was originally attributed to influenza, was confirmed as hantavirus late last Friday, April 17, through testing performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This case marks the third case of hantavirus in Colorado this year, all have been fatalities. The other cases include a Chaffee County man who died in January and a La Plata resident earlier this month.

In the case of the Phillips County man,  Dr. Tony Cappello, NCHD’s public health director said, “In this instance the attending physician did not suspect hantavirus at the time of death as the individual had tested positive for Influenza A via rapid testing in the hospital.

“The autopsy apparently revealed some inconsistencies with influenza, and as a result, several postmortem samples were sent on to the CDC for follow-up testing. Although hantavirus is not spread from person-to-person, NCHD will be partnering with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct an environmental assessment. Our goal right now is to work with the family of this individual to help ensure they are safe from continued exposure to this dangerous virus.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has documented more than 90 cases of Hantavirus since it began tracking the disease in 1993. More than forty percent of these individuals died from the infection.