In early January, 27-year-old Kiley Lane went to the hospital for what she thought was the flu. A month later, the mother is hooked up to a machine and "fighting for her life" in the intensive care unit at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) in Albuquerque.
At first, Lane was experiencing flu-like symtoms. She felt nauseous and had sharp stomach pains. Finally, her husband, Kevin, convinced her to get checked out.
The pair went to a hospital in their hometown, Farmington, New Mexico, where doctors told Lane she had a "blockage." They gave her laxatives and sent her home, Lane's mom, Julie Barron, told Fox News. Weeks later, on Feb. 1, she returned with shortness of breath.
"At one point, they thought she may be faking it," Barron said.
But Lane's condition continued to deteroriate and she had to be put on a ventilator.
"She was getting sicker and sicker and nobody seemed to want to listen," Barron said. "She didn't test positive for pneumonia, the flu, hepatitis – nothing she tested for was coming back."
Finally, one of Lane's tests results came back positive: Hantavirus. The rare illness is usually spread through contact with infected deer mice or their droppings or urine.
The virus is rare. As of January 2017, a total of 728 cases had been reported across 36 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The majority of cases were reported in states west of the Mississippi River.
The virus, which kills a reported 36 percent of victims, cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
On Feb. 5, Lane was airlifted to UNMH, where she was met by a team of doctors ready to hook her up to an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine. The medical device takes over the duties of the heart and lungs, pumping and oxygenating a person's blood.
"This virus starts attacking your body, it damages your organs," Barron explained. "The first thing that happened with Kiley is her lungs. They're in real critical shape."
Lane has been hooked up to the ECMO machine for 21 days now.
"A month ago, she was planning a trip to Costa Rica with her best friend from college. Now she can't even go to the bathroom by herself," Barron said. "She hasn't seen or talked to her daughter in a month. She can't even watch TV."
At this point, Barron said her daughter's recovery is a "waiting game."
She has seen a few improvements in her daughter's health here and there, but she has a long road to recovery. In the meantime, Barron said she's going to do everything in her power to spread awareness for the rare and deadly virus.
"It's not like she was digging through a dumpster or around infected rodents. She was doing her normal, everyday routine – sweeping the porch, wiping off a box with a paper towel," Barron said. "Everyone has the impression, 'that's never going to happen to me'."
Sherri Hull, a family friend, set up a YouCaring page to raise money for Lane's medical bills. More than 160 people have already donated to the cause, raising $23,720.
Barron is thankful for the support and hopes that spreading her daughter's story will save at least one life.
"We can't sit back and let things like this be swept under the carpet," Barron said. "I want people to know about the virus and to keep the name in open communications, so that nobody else has to go through this. Not one person."
To learn more how to get rid of rodents safely contact EHS Pest.