Rare Rodent-Based Virus Leaves NM Woman In Critical Condition
POSTED: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 11:29am
UPDATED: Monday, December 30, 2013 - 10:37am
SANTA FE- The New Mexico Department of Health is announcing today that a 59-year-old woman from McKinley County is in critical condition with virus spread by rodents.
This is the fifth case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) this year.
“While cases of Hantavirus are uncommon, the five cases we have had this year serve as a reminder of the importance in following our prevention guidelines to keep all New Mexicans safe and reduce their risk of being exposed to infected mice,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres.
People can become infected and develop disease from HPS when they breathe in aerosolized virus particles that have been transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva. The deer mouse is the main reservoir for the strain of Hantavirus that occurs in New Mexico, Sin Nombre virus.
To protect yourself, avoid contact with mice and other rodents. Other important steps are:
• Air out closed up buildings before entering
• 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
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 Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early.