Hantavirus is a respiratory disease that is contracted when airborne particles from rat droppings and urine are breathed into the lungs. Symptoms can initially be similar to the flu. However, the virus progresses to multiple infections, organ failure and can be fatal. It’s not uncommon in warm desert areas where rodents are plentiful. Recently a New Mexico woman died from the disease after doctors thought she had influenza when she first went to the hospital because it was right around the time flu cases were peaking in the area. She was seen at a medical center near her home in January and diagnosed with the flu. She returned the next day and was admitted for several days and then released. In early February, she was worse, could not walk on her own and was tested for hantavirus. When the test was positive, she was transferred to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. She was eventually released, and tests showed that the hantavirus was no longer active, but organ damage from the disease took its toll, and she died in mid-April
There is no treatment for hantavirus except respiratory therapy to pump blood and oxygen through the body since the virus damages the heart and lungs. It can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, and when that happens, it's very often fatal.