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New Hantavirus Death Reported, First in North Dakota

September 15, 1993

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The Health Department alerted doctors across the state about a hantavirus that caused several deaths in the Southwest after a North Dakota teen-ager died of pneumonia caused by it.

Michael Smith, 14, of the Fort Totten Indian reservation in northeast North Dakota died in late August of pneumonia, becoming the 21st known victim nationwide. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed that the boy was infected with the hantavirus.

Health officials say it is primarily spread by inhaling airborne particles of urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents, particularly deer mice. It is not transmitted person to person.

The hantavirus was first diagnosed near the Navaho Indian Reservation in the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado in early June. North Dakota is the ninth state with a confirmed case.

A local doctor expressed concern because the deer mouse is common in rural areas. ″This is a farming area and grain is found in many buildings and barns. ... It’s a real problem,″ Dr. Anthony Rayer said. ″It’s something we want to do our best to get under control quickly.″

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