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The mother of a 27-year-old woman who has been hospitalized for weeks is warning others about the rare rodent-borne virus that is threatening her daughter’s life Time

Aztec mother, Bloomfield boy have been diagnosed with illness

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FARMINGTON — Two San Juan County residents are on life support after being diagnosed with hantavirus this year.

Fernando Hernandez, 9, of Bloomfield, was diagnosed with hantavirus in late February after being transported to Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, according to his father, George Hernandez.

Fernando is on life support and requires the use of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which George said is keeping his son alive by pumping and oxygenating his blood.

But the New Mexico Department of Health said in a statement it investigates and takes seriously all reported cases of hantavirus in the state, and it has no confirmed cases of hantavirus this year. Hantavirus is a respiratory disease in humans transmitted by infected rodents.

Fernando started showing flu-like symptoms around Jan. 28, including a fever and sharp stomach pains. He was taken to the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington and stayed there for about eight days.

More: 2nd hantavirus death of 2017 reported in New Mexico

George was told X-rays showed his son had spots on his lungs, but he was told the spots would clear up. Fernando was later discharged with medication and an oxygen tank.

On his ninth birthday on Feb. 10, Fernando returned to the emergency room and was struggling to breathe on his own, George said. Fernando was transported to Children's Hospital Colorado later that day.

"His lungs are very sick, super sick," George Hernandez said.

George has no idea how Fernando contracted the disease. The rental house the family was staying in was inspected, and no hantavirus was found.

On Monday, George was moving his family's belongings from their rental home into a storage unit and planned to drive to Aurora Tuesday.

He quit his job with a local stucco company and was planning to join his wife Anna Hernandez, who has been in Aurora since Fernando was transported there.

More: Officials warn about hantavirus after death

Kiley Lane, 27, of Aztec, had a similar experience.

The mother of one was diagnosed with hantavirus at the San Juan Regional Medical Center on Feb. 5, according to her mother, Julie Barron. Later that day, Lane was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

San Juan Regional has had one patient test positive for hantavirus this year, according to spokeswoman Laura Werbner.

Lane started to have flu-like symptoms on Jan. 13 and went to the hospital. The family initially didn't think it was a big deal, and she was released that day.

On Jan. 14, Lane returned to the ER, and the hospital staff kept her for several days before she was released again, Barron said.

When Barron visited her daughter around Feb. 1, Lane looked worse than she did during Barron's last visit, and Lane could not walk on her own.

Her family checked Lane back into the hospital, and she was tested for hantavirus around Feb. 3.

Barron said on Feb. 5, Lane tested positive for hantavirus, and she was transported to the UNM Hospital.

Lane's lungs are inflamed, and she is on life support on an ECMO machine like Fernando.

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Hantaviruses are carried by some rodents, and produce a rare but deadly disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Steve Byerly

Barron is optimistic her daughter will recover but believes the staff at San Juan Regional should have tested her daughter for hantavirus earlier. She was also upset the hospital did not have an ECMO machine onsite to treat her daughter.

The hospital does not have an ECMO machine, according to Werbner.

"I don't accept that it's a rural area," Barron said about access to an ECMO machine. "People pay the same amount of money for insurance everywhere."

Barron lives in Lubbock, Texas, and works at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Southwest.

She planned to travel to Albuquerque Thursday to allow Kiley's husband Kevin Lane to rest and spend time with the couple's daughter.

Barron recommends that citizens take precautions if they spot rodents or their droppings on their property, including wearing a mask and gloves around possible rodent droppings.

Information on hantavirus can be found at http://bit.ly/NMDOHhantavirus.

Donations for Fernando can be made at http://bit.ly/fernandodonations.

Donations for Lane can be made at http://bit.ly/kileylane.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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