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Wife of hantavirus victim speaking out to warn others

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – A Hettinger man died in early August from hantavirus -- an infection caused by contact with mice.

And his wife says she's speaking out -- because people need to know about the disease.

Ryan Havelka was 29. He died just six days after the first symptoms appeared. The state Health Department usually keeps the identities of hantavirus victims from the public -- but Patty Havelka insisted that Ryan's case become public.

"Never in a million years did I think my husband would die young, and never did I think it would be from an illness like hantavirus," an emotional Havelka told Bismarck reporters. "Ryan was a strong, good, smart man, an everyday man, and this experience shows me hantavirus can strike anyone."

Hantavirus infections are rare in North Dakota. But health officials say keeping mice out of homes and work buildings is important in preventing the disease.