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SASTM Newsflash - Hantavirus update - New Mexico


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SASTM Newsflash




The New Mexico Department of Health is announcing a fatal case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in a 73-year-old woman from Santa Fe County. This is the 2nd case of [a] hantavirus [infection] in New Mexico this year [2013] and the 1st HPS fatality ever documented in a resident of Santa Fe County. An environmental investigation will be conducted at the home of the patient to help reduce the risk to others.


"We extend our sympathy to this woman's family and friends," said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Retta Ward, MPH. "I am asking all New Mexicans to follow our prevention guidelines to keep themselves and their families safe."


Hantavirus [causes] 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 [_Peromyscus maniculatus_] is the main reservoir for Sin Nombre virus, the hantavirus strain most commonly found in New Mexico. 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, abdominal pain and cough which progresses to respiratory distress. These symptoms develop within 1-6 weeks after rodent exposure. Although there is no specific treatment for HPS, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early.


"The best defense against being infected with [a] hantavirus is to avoid disturbing areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings," said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department's Public Health Veterinarian. "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. Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime."


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

- Don't sweep up rodent droppings into the air where they can be inhaled

- 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 previous 2013 New Mexico case was in a 45-year-old woman from McKinley County who survived. In 2012, New Mexico had one case of hantavirus [infection], which was fatal, in a 20-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County. In 2011, New Mexico had 5 cases of hantavirus [infections]; 3 of the 5 cases were fatal including a 51-year-old woman from McKinley County, a 35-year-old man from Torrance County, and a 23-year-old man from McKinley County.


Since it was 1st discovered in 1993, New Mexico has had a total of 93 lab-confirmed hantavirus cases with 38 fatalities, 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 624 cases with a fatality rate of 36 percent.


Communicated by: ProMED-mail


Although the above report does not say so explicitly, it does mention Sin Nombre virus, which is doubtless the hantavirus responsible for this case of HPS. The rodent host of Sin Nombre virus is _Peromyscus maniculatus_, which is widely distributed in North America and frequently invades houses, especially during cold, winter weather.




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The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

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