New Mexico reports second death due to Hantavirus

The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Thursday that a 12-year-old boy from McKinley county died from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, the second death caused by the disease this year.

Authorities reported that an environmental investigation will take place at the boy's home to minimize the risk of spreading the disease, and asked the public to take precautions to prevent infection.

"We want to make sure people know how to protect themselves from Hantavirus so no other family has to endure this kind of tragedy," Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward said. "People need to avoid contact with mice and other rodents. They need to use caution when cleaning up droppings and nests."

Hantavirus is a deadly disease that is transmitted through the bodily secretions of an infected rodent. Humans can contract the virus by inhaling aerosolized virus. The deer mouse is the main carrier of the Sin Nombre Hantavirus strain, the most common strain in New Mexico.

"People are usually exposed to Hantavirus around their homes, especially when they clean out enclosed areas that have lots of mouse droppings," Department of Health Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Paul Ettestad said. "With the cold weather, mice may try to enter buildings for shelter so 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."

Authorities asked people to use precaution in areas which may be inhabited by mice. Symptoms of the Hantavirus are flu-like.