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Central Oregon

A rare but deadly virus serves as Bend mother’s sad reminder, 10 years later

(Update: Adding video, comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- This time of year is hard for Bend's Susie Moon. This week marks 10 years since she lost her only son, Brad Buckley, to the hantavirus.

Hantaviruses are a group of viruses that are carried by rodents.

One of them, sin nombre, is found in deer mice in North America and can be passed through droppings, urine and saliva.

Moon and her family believe Buckley contracted the virus when he was helping a friend with a construction project in Mancos, Colorado.

Despite wearing a mask, medical professionals said the virus may have stayed on his body due to his long facial hair.

Buckley and his friend, Ryan, ended up building their dream cabin in Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

As they began their six-mile trek into the wilderness to visit their new favorite spot, Buckley began to feel ill one Sunday evening.

By Tuesday morning, he had lost his life.

"Tuesday morning, Ryan hiked out to where there was cell coverage and had a satellite phone conversation with Brad while he was at the cabin," Moon said Wednesday. "While he was out there, Brad called him and said, 'I need help, now.' So Ryan ran back, but by then it was too late."

Buckley graduated from Bend High School before heading to Oregon State University in Corvallis to study wildlife sciences.

He followed his passion for nature and became a wildlife biologist in Colorado.

Moon said knew about hantavirus and took precautions, but despite that, he unfortunately was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She urges Central Oregonians to know how to recognize a deer mouse, the region's most prevalent rodent, and to clean after seeing one inside or outside, to prevent contracting it.

She said she now hopes his life serves as a reminder, to keep others aware and safe.

And if she could speak to him again, one more time? "He already knew it, but I'd tell him I love him, and that I was proud."

Bend / Deschutes County / Health / News / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

Comments

8 Comments

  1. You have to be living in pretty squalid conditions to get the Hanta’, like breathing rat poop dust. If it would have happened now, the state would have written it up as covid and that’s a fact, as the Hanta causes respiratory issues, and it’s already known that respiratory issues can be listed as covid symptoms without being tested

  2. If you live in an area with rodents be careful when sweeping up your shop or barn. This is usually how folks catch hantavirus. Maybe the critters spent the inter in your shop for shelter and in Spring when you go to clean it out and sweep up the dirt there is rodent poop and pee in it. Breathing in those particles is how you catch it if the rodent is a carrier. If you find an area you need to clean that has rodent droppings, mop it up with bleach water first to disinfect the area. You can then sweep it up after. If you must sweep and can’t mop first, wear an n95 mask and shower after. Better safe than sorry.

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