Posted: May 28, 2013 4:42 PM by Judy Slate
Updated: May 28, 2013 4:43 PM
BOZEMAN - More than two weeks have passed since a Gallatin County woman died after contracting Hantavirus. Now, her mother says she believes doctors did the best they could for RheaLynn Baxter.
Sharon Baxter says she's still in shock over her daughter's death, but she doesn't hold anyone responsible.
"I really don't in my heart believe that they did anything wrong," she said.
RheaLynn, 20, became sick in the early part of May. Her mother took her to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital twice.
"I firmly believe they did all the right tests, CAT scan, look for blood bleeds," Sharon said.
RheaLynn was sent home but wasn't getting any better. That's when Sharon asked that she be taken to Livingston Hospital to be closer to family.
"Before she was sent to Billings, Dr. Wadley did say that he suspected Hantavirus," she said. "I knew it wasn't good."
Sharon packed a bag and left for Billings to meet up with RheaLynn.
"Somewhere between Big Timber and Columbus I knew she wasn't coming home," Sharon recalls.
At the hospital in Billings, a sedated RheaLynn was surrounded by family and friends.
"I went outside to go for a walk and something said ‘go back inside.'" Sharon said. "I could hear the buzzers and I glanced at the heart monitor and it was not normal and then she was gone."
Sharon is still trying to cope with her daughter's death but does not hope it was in vain.
"Unfortunately, this is an eye-opener that it doesn't matter what age you are, it can strike."
Sharon says she hopes more people become aware of Hantavirus and that children learn about it in school.
RheaLynn is the 10th person reported to have died from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in Montana since 1993. This is the first Hantavirus-related death in Montana in 2013. The greatest risk for contracting Hantavirus is associated with exposure to rodent feces in closed, dry areas.
Health experts say the Hantavirus is extremely difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are non-specific. Symptoms include shortness of breath, muscle aches, fever and chills. Symptoms may not show up until one to six weeks after exposure.
There is no cure for Hantavirus.