EL NIÑO'S POWERFUL REACH   What is
El Niņo?
Clues From
the Past
Long Distance
Connections
Winners &
Losers
El Niņo
Lowdown

Left 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Connection to Deadly Disease Right

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This Navajo painting depicts the deer mouse, a hantavirus carrier. Click to view full image.

Weather extremes caused by El Niņos can affect the spread of infectious diseases. In 1993, hantavirus, a respiratory infection, killed 27 Americans - all in the southwestern United States. Navajo Indians were among the victims of hantavirus. Navajo art has a long tradition of depicting a connection between increased rain, illness, and an important carrier of the hantavirus disease, the deer mouse. The 1991-92 El Niņo brought heavier than normal rain and snow. By the spring of 1993 seeds and nut crops flourished, and the deer mouse populations boomed. Deer mouse
Deer mouse.