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Apr 24, 2015

09:22:40 GMT--Biological Hazard - North-America - USA

EDIS Number: BH-20150424-47929-USA
Date / time: 24/04/2015 09:21:56 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Colorado
Location: [Phillips County]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A


A woman stunned by the unexpected death of her husband in January experienced another surprise this month when she learned the true cause of his death: hantavirus. On Friday, the Northeast Colorado Health Department identified a fatal hantavirus case in Phillips County. Administrators at Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke confirmed 40-year-old Mason Cornett was the patient. Jennifer Phillips says she hopes new information about her husband's death raises awareness about the respiratory virus. "We've been grieving for several months, so that part we've come to terms with. But finding out why is new," Wright said. Health officials initially believed Cornett died of influenza A, until an autopsy revealed inconsistencies. Further tests done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was hantavirus. All three cases of the virus identified in Colorado this year have been fatal. In Colorado, deer mice can carry hantavirus. People usually contract the virus when they breathe in air or dust contaminated with feces and urine from deer mice. It usually happens while cleaning out rodent-infested rooms or structures. Phillips says 10 days before Cornett began showing symptoms, he had cleaned out a barn on their property. She says a team of health workers will visit the barn in early May to investigate if it is contaminated with hantavirus. She says after her husband's death, she continued using the barn to house her dogs. She stopped after health officials contacted her last Friday. It can take one to six weeks for a person to show symptoms. Within days, a person can experience serious breathing difficulties. Phillips says Cornett first experienced body aches and stomach pains. Four days later, they went to the hospital when he began hyperventilating. "He was gone within maybe three or four hours of us getting to the hospital," Phillips said. "And he was awake and talking all the way up until the last hour." Since the state began tracking hantavirus in 1993, it has documented more than 90 cases across Colorado. Cornett was the first person to contract the virus in northeast Colorado.

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