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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
January 23, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 23, 1997

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,. Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, January 23, 1997 13 Hantavirus survivor describes ordeal Continued from page 2 I could only bring in short gasps of air." Arriving at Nye Regional Medical Center in Tonopah, Moss was examined by Dr. Christopher Ward. After the examination Ward had several tests performed and called Dr. Brian Callister for consultation. They didn't tell Moss what they thought. Hopefully, tests would show they were wrong. The samples would also be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Moss was placed in intensive care. He would remain there for the next 1 l-days. Tubes were connected to his arms to feed IV fluids and antibiotics. More tubes were inserted to try and drain his lungs. Unknown to Moss at the time, his lungs were filling up and he was literally drowning in his own fluids: Three times he reached "super-critical." He was delirious and couldn't remember most of the busy activity that was constantly occurring around him. All he could do was lay in bed, hurt, throw-up, shake and, in brief moments of clarity, wish he could die and be done with it. Within a matter of a few days the Tonopah doctors received a phone call from Atlanta. Their worst fears were confirmed. Ron Moss had contracted hantavirus, known then as 'Navajo, or Four Corners, disease.' A team of doctors was being assembled in Atlanta for the trip to Tonopah. A complete medical investigation was in progress. Not all the news was bad. The CDC informed the Tonopah doctors that a new vaccine that was somewhat successful in treating the Asian version of hantavirus was being shipped to Nevada. Although the drug was experimental it showed optimistic promise. The vaccine was sent to Las Vegas and the plane was met by the Nevada Highway Patrol. The highway patrol, with lights flashing, transported it to Nye Regional Medical Center where, on the same day it left Atlanta, it was inserted in an IV and given to Moss. Moss, by this time, had been told he had come down with the rare disease. The doctors were honest with him. There was a 65 percent mortality rate but the new drug gave inspiration. Many hantavirus victims died within four hours of the onset of symptoms. Moss had been holding on for seven days at this point. Within a day of being treated with the new vaccine Moss began showing signs of improvement. "It was like being at the bottom of a swimming pool having es- sentially drowned, yet slowly moving up towards the light," said Moss. He had lost 40 pounds and was terri- bly weak from the disease. But slowly the symptoms began to fade. After another four days in intensive care, he was moved to a regular hospital room. The CDC doctors showed up to interview him. "They must have asked me 50,000 questions," Moss commented. "They went to my house and did a com- plete search. They sampled everything they could possi- bly sample and took it all back to Atlanta." The CDC team told Moss that he was Licensed d Jwarranty Radio Dispatched' 7 days a week service 1220 E. Manse E. of PV BLVD now immune to hantavirus. He's not quite sure how he takes that revelation. As he was recovering Moss had an almost uncontrollable urge for fruits. "Apples, pears, any fruit. The craving was incredible," he relates. "The nurses were concerned about it but my doctors said, 'If it's fruit he craves, it's fruit he gets!'" Moss was released from Nye Regional Medical Center 20 days after his admission. He was ultimately declared indigent and Nye County paid the $70,000-plus medical bill. Moss said nearly half that bill was for the new vaccine. Recovery continued for over a year. He started out taking short walks every day. He couldn't handle much more than that. His body remained weak. He had memory and eyesight problems. "I had to re-educate myself on almost everything. I knew I was a heavy equipment mechanic but I couldn't remember how to do it." Eventually he began jogging and after more than a year he returned to normal. Donation containers had been located throughout Tonopah and Moss collected nearly $800 from townsfolk. "They'll never know how much that meant to me," said Moss. "I was broke, jobless and, for all I lnew, looking at a $70,000 hospital bill. The love of friends and neighbors meant a lot td my recovery." Today, Ron Moss and his family live in LaVerne, Cali- fornia. He is employed and about to be married. EDITORS NOTE: The mortality rate for hantavirus is currently around 30 percent thanks to new vaccines that have been developed since 1993 when Ron Moss was one of the first victims of this deadly virus. [NAPA Quality Auto partsl '// 1997 Nevada State Cowboy // Action Shooting Championship // The Great Success that it was! Without this support it would not be the same! 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