Mark Fratrick

Mark Fratrick of Taos contracted hantavirus in August while cleaning out a mice-infested shed on his property.

TAOS — Mark Fratrick was cleaning out two sheds on his properties in Taos County this summer when he took a breath that nearly killed him.

Either through a surgical mask he wore as a precaution, or when he might have lapsed and taken it off, Fratrick inhaled one or more viral particles that would gradually open the capillaries surrounding his lungs, allowing them to fill with fluid.

He didn’t have COVID-19. Fratrick had contracted hantavirus, a rare and far deadlier virus that thrives in the hot, dry, dusty American Southwest.

This story first appeared in The Taos News, a sister publication of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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