WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Health officials on Tuesday reported the Navajo Nation's first case this year of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease spread by infected rodent droppings.

The case was confirmed in McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico but it wasn't known how the person contracted Hantavirus, the tribal Department of Health said.

Hantavirus typically is reported in spring and summer, often due to exposures that occur when people are near mouse droppings in homes, sheds or poorly ventilated areas.

Recommended precautions to limit the spread of Hantavirus include ventilating and cleaning areas where they might be mouse droppings, according to a department statement.

“It is essential to take appropriate precautions when entering and cleaning sheds, garages, campers, cabins, barns, and other buildings," the statement said. “The illness is not spread from person to person.

The Navajo Nation weighed several plans Thursday to spend the last $177 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds the tribe received – money that has to be spent by the end of the year or will be lost. (Photo by Chelsea Hofmann, Cronkite News)

In other Navajo Nation news, on Monday, the tribe reported finding no new COVID-19 related deaths for the ninth consecutive day.

The tribe reported four new confirmed coronavirus cases, but no additional deaths.

The latest numbers bring the Navajo Nation's pandemic case total to 30,371 with the death toll remaining at 1,262.

Tribal officials said nearly 16,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 thus far.

The tribe had been easing into reopening but that slowed somewhat after coronavirus variants were confirmed on the reservation. Tribal officials urged residents to stay vigilant.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the tribe recently had a cluster of COVID-19 cases as a result of a family gathering where people were not wearing masks.

Tribal public health orders mandate that masks be worn on the reservation and a daily curfew is in effect. Restaurants cannot have dine-in services.

Navajo Nation roads also are closed to visitors and tourists, which doesn’t affect travel on state highways that run through the reservation.

Meanwhile, health care facilities across the reservation continue to offer the vaccine by appointment or at drive-thru events.

The Navajo Nation's reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

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