9-Year Old Boy With Flu-Like Symptoms Fighting For Life Against Rare Hantavirus

What you need to know to stay healthy during flu season
Fernando Hernandez was placed on life support at a hospital in Aurora after he had been diagnosed with Hantavirus. His family initially believed he was suffering from the flu because of his flu-like symptoms.   ( George Hernandez | GoFundMe )

Young Fernando Hernandez was initially believed to be down with the flu but doctors eventually found the real source of his sickness.

Fernando evidently has Hantavirus infection, and he continues to fight for his life against the rare condition.

Flu-Like Symptoms

In late January, the 9-year-old boy lost a day of school after developing flu-like symptoms. He got well enough to go back to school but just ended up getting worse when he came back.

That was when his father George Hernandez decided to bring him to a nearby hospital, where he was confined for 10 days. However, he was released from the hospital without a clear diagnosis. Doctors just said he should rest and that his lungs would eventually clear up.

Days later, Fernando couldn't breathe on his own, so his father rushed him back to a hospital. Due to the seriousness of his condition, he was airlifted to the Children's Hospital Colorado, where doctors ran several more tests which still came back negative. The doctors even considered mold to be the cause of his sickness, but an inspection of their Farmington home still came up negative.

Doctors performed a number of surgeries on him, which did not yield any positive results and Fernando's health just continued to deteriorate. He was then hooked up to an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation machine that pumps oxygenated blood into the bloodstream with the help of an artificial lung.

Hantavirus Diagnosis

This past week, George Hernandez finally learned his son's illness, which he has fought since January. Doctors revealed his condition as a result of Hantavirus infection, a rare condition that can be contracted through contact with deer mice urine, droppings, or saliva.

He suspects that his son may have contracted the virus when he asked him to help clean the backyard two months prior, although he hopes that it is not the case.

After the diagnosis, George got in touch with Julie Barron, whose daughter was the first case of Hantavirus in Farmington this year. The two aim to spread awareness about the virus, especially since it is so rare that not a lot of people know about it.

The family set up a GoFundMe page to help cover Fernando's medical expenses. So far, he has been on life support for 21 days.

 Symptoms Of The Hantavirus Infection

Infection with the hantavirus can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Its early symptoms are quite similar to flu symptoms such as fever, muscle ache, headache, nausea, vomiting, and chills. However, the exact incubation period of the virus isn't exactly known because of the rarity of the condition. It is estimated that the early symptoms may appear between one and eight weeks after exposure.

Four to 10 days after the early flu-like symptoms start to show, late symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath may begin to appear.

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