Health Dept.: New Mexico records 1st hantavirus death in ’17

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico has recorded its first death this year from hantavirus.

The state Department of Health says the 54-year-old man who died was from San Juan County in northwestern New Mexico and that he was the second case of hantavirus confirmed in the state this year.

Hantavirus is a severe and sometimes fatal, respiratory disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva.

Public health officials say people can contract hantavirus when they breathe in aerosolized virus and that deer mice are the main carrier for the hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.

The department urges people to be mindful of stirring up dust in areas of rodent infestation when opening up sheds, cabins and other buildings that were closed up for winter.