NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health announced Thursday that three people have been diagnosed with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the past two weeks. That brings the 2023 statewide total to five.
Officials say the three recently-discovered cases are unrelated but all came from the Four Corners region. One of the patients has died from the virus. The others were hospitalized and spent time in intensive care units before returning home.
In New Mexico, deer mice are the main carriers of HPS. The virus is found in their droppings and urine. People are often exposed to hantavirus when cleaning out or going into enclosed areas where mouse droppings are present.
Symptoms of HPS include flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, muscle aches, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a cough which progresses to respiratory distress and severe illness.
The symptoms develop within one to six weeks following exposure to rodent droppings. Recovery from the virus is easier if people get medical attention early.
To prevent contracting hantavirus, NMDOH recommends:
- Air out closed-up buildings such as cabins and sheds, as well as abandoned or stored vehicles before entering them.
- Trap mice until they are all gone.
- Seal up homes and shelters to prevent rodents from entering.
- Soak nests and droppings with a disinfectant such as a 10% bleach solution before cleaning them up.
- 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.
More information on controlling wild rodent infestations is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.