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Biological Health Threat – Fatal Hantavirus (HPS) [Update 2016-06-30]: New Mexico


Published Date: 2016-06-30 21:13:20
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Hantavirus update – Americas (33): USA (NM) fatal
Archive Number: 20160630.4319679

Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
Source: New Mexico Department of Health [edited]

6th Documented Hantavirus Case in New Mexico for 2016

The New Mexico Department of Health announced today [30 Jun 2016] that a 20-year-old woman from Torrance County has died of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). This is the 6th case and 4th death from HPS in New Mexico this year.

Hantavirus infection 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.

“Deer mice can be found throughout New Mexico, so people everywhere in the state should take precautions,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the department’s public health veterinarian. “Cleaning up rodent droppings and nesting material in enclosed spaces can concentrate the virus in stirred up particles that can be breathed in, so people need to be very careful when cleaning up mouse infested areas. Using a disinfectant spray on areas with rodent droppings and waiting 15 or 20 minutes before cleaning will kill the virus and decrease your risk.”

The Department of Health urges healthcare workers and the general public to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of hantavirus [infections]. 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 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.

Important steps to follow to prevent contracting hantavirus include:
– Air out closed-up buildings before entering
– 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 other cases of HPS in New Mexico earlier this year include a 25-year-old man from McKinley County who died, a 30-year-old man from San Juan County who died, an 84-year-old man from Santa Fe County who recovered, a 54-year-old man from Cibola County who died and 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 survived. In 2014 New Mexico identified 6 HPS cases with 3 deaths.

Communicated by:
Paul Ettestad DVM, MS
State Public Health Veterinarian
Infectious Disease Epidemiology Bureau
Epidemiology and Response Division
New Mexico Department of Health

[It is unfortunate that another fatal case of Sin Nombre virus infection, causing hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, has occurred in New Mexico. Sin Nombre hantavirus is endemic in the southwestern USA, including New Mexico. The spring season often brings with sporadic cases of hantavirus infections, as cabins and other buildings unused over the winter are opened up and cleaned in the western USA. Deer mice, _Peromyscus maniculatus_, are the reservoir host of the virus. Sin Nombre virus infections can be serious, with a relatively high case fatality rate associated with hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome. Prompt medical attention is essential.

Dr. Ettestad is thanked for sending in this report.

An image of the deer mouse, _P. maniculatus_, can be seen at – Mod.TY

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:]

See Also

Hantavirus update – Americas (31): USA (NM), fatal 20160616.4291571
Hantavirus update – Americas (30): USA (UT) 20160603.4264532
Hantavirus update – Americas (28): USA (CO), Chile (BI) 20160520.4235672
Hantavirus update – Americas (27): USA (MT, NM) 20160517.4227845
Hantavirus update – Americas (23): USA (CO) 20160424.4179685
Hantavirus update – Americas (18): USA (NM) 20160406.4142637
Hantavirus – Americas (16): USA (AZ) 20160325.4119418
Hantavirus update – Americas (07): USA (NM) 20160205.3997720
Hantavirus update – Americas (05): USA (AZ) 20160126.3967940
Hantavirus update – Americas (03): USA (AZ) comment 20160116.3942572
Hantavirus update – Americas (02): USA (AZ) 20160114.3936962

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

Category C Priority Pathogens

Hantavirus occurs in nature, but it is also considered a Category C bioterrorism agent. Category C organisms/biological agents are the third highest priority , and are emerging pathogens that might be engineered for mass dissemination because of their natural availability, ease of production and dissemination, high mortality rate, and ability to cause a major health impact.

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