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Hantavirus Has Potential To Be Deadly

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Hantavirus (credit: CBS)

Hantavirus (credit: CBS)

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- So far this year in Colorado, one person has died and two others have been sickened from Hantavirus. It’s a respiratory disease carried by deer mice and transmitted by inhaling dust contaminated with the virus.

One woman from Weld County nearly died from the disease and is sharing her story to prevent others from becoming sick.

Back in March, Holly Steinbach thought she had a bad case of the flu. Her symptoms were common, fever and chills, but then she started blacking out.

“I’d stand up and I’d get dizzy and light headed and fall back down,” said Steinbach.

By the time she got to the emergency room, Steinbach was dying.

“I was in cardiac arrest and my lungs weren’t working,” said Steinbach.

She had Hantavirus, a respiratory disease carried by deer mice. There is no effective treatment. Steinbach was put into a coma and hooked to a machine to get oxygen to her body.

“My mom was told to call family and friends because they didn’t think I would make it,” said Steinbach.

Nearly a month later, she left the hospital in a wheelchair. She’s needed a walker, crutches and painkillers to recover from the wound in her leg where the lifesaving machine was attached to an artery.

Steinbach doesn’t know the official source of the virus, but she suspects an old barn on her boyfriend’s property in rural Weld County.

“We went in here just one time. He’s got an old pickup truck in there that I wanted to see,” said Steinbach.

She wanted to share her story to spread the word about Hantavirus, “It’s dangerous, it’s deadly and it’s out there.”

Hantavirus is where ever deer mice live. They shed it in their droppings and urine.

To help prevent the spread of Hantavirus, follow these guidelines:

  • Before cleaning old barns or sheds, ventilate and wet down the area with a mixture of water and bleach.
  • Wear gloves and a mask.
  • Moose-proof all buildings where people will be and remove rodent hiding places.
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