Crestone Eagle, August 2004:
Hanta Virus discovered in the Baca!
Man survives life-threatening illness
by Mary Lowers
A case of Hanta Virus contracted by a Baca resident
has been confirmed by the Colorado Department of Health. The
Baca resident survived the illness after being airlifted from
Salida to Denver, and is back at home recovering.
Hanta Virus, which is often deadly, is hard to contract.
It comes in two strains; one attacks the respiratory system
and other internal organs, specifically the liver and gall
bladder. The second strain, the type contracted by the Baca
man, is less common. Hanta is contracted from mouse urine
and droppings, and the rapid explosion in the mouse population
is making the rate of Hanta Virus high. Colorado Department
of Health estimates half of the mouse population carries the
One woman has died in the state from the illness so far this
year. There have been two cases of Hanta in the state this
year, compared to only two cases prior to this, over the last
ten years. The Baca man was tested for West Nile Virus, as
well as Hanta Virus; both tests he received for Hanta came
back positive. Hanta Virus has an incubation period of 1-6
The virus victim’s Baca home was inundated with mice.
He was using a shop vac, which is most likely when he contracted
If you must work in an area where contact is possible, follow
these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control:
•When opening an unused cabin, shed, or other building,
open all the doors and windows, exit the building, and allow
the space to air out for 30 minutes.
•Return to the building and spray the surfaces, carpet,
and other areas with a disinfectant. Leave the building for
an additional 30 minutes.
•Spray mouse nests and droppings with a 10% solution
of chlorine bleach or equivalent disinfectant, allow to sit
30 minutes, and using rubber gloves place the materials in
plastic bags, seal, and dispose of the bags in the trash or
incinerator. Dispose of gloves and cleaning materials in the
same manner. [Ed. note: Do not vacuum, as this can blow
pathogens into the air.]
•Wash all potentially contaminated hard surfaces with
a bleach or disinfectant solution. Vacuuming should be avoided
until the area has been thoroughly decontaminated and then
should only be done (the first few times) with adequate ventilation.
Surgical masks may provide some protection.
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