The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 54-year-old man from Cibola County has died of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This is the second case of HPS in New Mexico this year. An environmental investigation will be conducted at the patient’s home 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 carrier for Sin Nombre virus, the Hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.
“People need to be very careful when they are doing their spring cleaning and opening up sheds, cabins, and other buildings that have been closed up for the winter as mice and other rodents may have moved in,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the department’s public health veterinarian. “Stirring up dust in areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings, can cause the virus to be stirred up into the air where the particles can be breathed in. It’s best to air out cabins and sheds before entering them and wet down droppings with a disinfectant.”
The Department of Health urges healthcare workers and the general public to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of Hantavirus. Early symptoms of Hantavirus infection include fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and 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.
New Mexico had a case of HPS earlier this year in a 37-year-old woman from Sandoval County who recovered. In 2015, New Mexico had one case of HPS in a 53-year-old woman from Taos County who also survived. In 2014 New Mexico identified six HPS cases with three deaths.
Since it was first discovered in 1993, New Mexico has reported a total of 103 lab-confirmedHPS cases with 43 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 690 cases in 35 states.
- Bernalillo County man is 1st Zika virus case in New Mexico
- Norovirus increases reported in New Mexico
- Plague and tularemia in the US 2015: Exact reasons for increases ‘hard to pinpoint’