Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Health. Discussion »
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESEVATION Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele has confirmed in a news release that a girl 10 years or younger has died on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from hantavirus. She died last week and she will be laid to rest today.
Emergency Health Concern
People become infected through contact with hantavirus infected rodents or their urine and droppings, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Steele called for tribal programs and other organizations "to immediately lend their support in whatever way possible to ensure that this tragedy does not strike again."
“I also call upon all residents living within the Pine Ridge Reservation to take the time to learn about the preventive educational methods necessary to protect your loved ones,”
President Steele continued in his statement.
Several families have been moved from their homes near where the young girl lived and are being housed in the casino in order for tribal officials to determine the health safety of the living conditions. Several tribal agencies are working closely together to prevent more deaths.
Hantavirus was first identified in 1993 when an outbreak of this infectious lung disease took place in the southwestern United States on the Navajo Reservation.
The majority of cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, HPS, occur during the spring and summer, mostly in rural areas.
In the first 3 to 7 days of hantavirus, many of its symptoms resemble those of a severe cold, the flu, or a gastrointestinal disease.
Parents should monitor their children for the symptoms of a severe cold or the flu and then develops shortness of breath or other respiratory problems, contact a doctor or health clinic immediately, if there is suspicion of the disease.
Councilwoman Sonia Weston, chairperson of the Oglala Sioux Tribe's Health & Human Services Committee cautioned tribal citizens to take proper precautions to ensure health and safety for their families.
“It is extremely important to immediately prioritize hantavirus pulmonary syndrome as the number one emergency health concern on the Pine Ridge Reservation and to take all precautionary measures to protect the members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe against this deadly disease,”
posted June 5, 2012 6:30 am edt