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Hard to believe it has been that long ago [see also camai-start-here] when a new killer emerged among NM and the Pueblos. No one knew at first what it was and how to avoid the mystery illness which seemed to target young Native people. We couldn’t wait for the “outside experts” but needed to rely on the Pueblos’ own experts to begin to combat the disease and rumors. It was frightening.

The Navajo Medicine Men society was an immense help in uncovering the ecology of this disease. [Dr Jim Cheek worked with them. See this paper http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1076&context=zoonoticspub and the People Magazine article at the time,

This is only the third time this century that there has been a year-round supply of the nuts. Says Dr. James Cheek of the Indian Health Service: “I believe the elders and medicine men might have been much closer than any of us to the cause of the disease.”

BTW, before an official name sin nombre was assigned, the CDC did receive suggestions and concerns from the Pueblos about the suggested names which inadvertently used Pueblo sacred site names or other names which were used by folks other than CDC researchers. Sin nombre was a good choice.

Twenty-Year Summary of Surveillance for Human Hantavirus Infections, United States — B. Knust and P. E. Rollin

In 1993, an outbreak of severe respiratory illness in the Four Corners region of the United States (defined by the shared borders between the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah) made national headlines. The subsequent discovery of a new disease, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) (1), its etiologic agent, Sin Nombre virus (SNV) (2), and its rodent reservoir, the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) (3), were among the most prominent findings in a flood of new revelations about hantaviruses in the Americas.