First Case Of Severe Virus Since Last Year Detected In New Mexico

By Sherah Janay Ndjongo

February 20, 2024

Urban rat
Photo: Getty Images

The first hantavirus case for 2024 has been confirmed by the New Mexico Department of Health, involving a man residing in the Four Corners region.

This individual, from San Juan County, underwent hospitalization, subsequent release and is currently in the process of recovery at home.

Hantavirus, a respiratory disease with potentially severe and fatal outcomes, saw seven reported cases in New Mexico last year, resulting in two deaths. Health authorities emphasize deer mice as the primary carriers of the virus, predominantly found in their droppings and urine. Exposure commonly occurs in and around residences, cabins or sheds, particularly during activities involving the cleaning or exploration of enclosed areas inhabited by mice.

Symptoms manifest 1-6 weeks after exposure, encompassing fever, muscle aches, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cough, with the latter two potentially progressing to respiratory distress.

To mitigate the risk of hantavirus exposure, officials advocate preventive measures such as ventilating enclosed structures, trapping mice, sealing homes to prevent rodent intrusion, disinfecting nests and droppings, refraining from sweeping droppings into the air, relocating hay and compost away from residences, proper disposal of trash and safeguarding pet food from mouse access. These precautions aim to shield individuals from the serious consequences associated with hantavirus infection.

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