AURORA, Colo. -- It started with flu-like symptoms. But within days, 9-year-old Fernando Granado was being airlifted to Children's Hospital in Aurora and is now fighting for his life.
The boy, originally from Farmington, New Mexico, has hantavirus. It's a deadly disease usually carried by deer mice, and spread through contact with rodent feces.
"Basically it's a killer disease. If you do contact hantavirus there is no cure or medicine for it," the boy's father, George Hernandez, told Denver7.
Hernandez says his son woke up one morning in January throwing up. The next day it had gotten worse so he took him to the emergency room. The boy was eventually sent home with oxygen to help his breathing. Days later his condition became life-threatening and he was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Aurora for treatment on Feb. 10.
The boy has been in the hospital since, in and out of a medically-induced coma. He is currently on life support.
"He's awake, he responds by nodding, he can kind of speak, and he’s trying. It's just really heartbreaking to see him in bed," his father said.
Hernandez says he doesn't know how his son contracted the virus, though they do live in a farming community where mice are prevalent.
Hantavirus is extremely rare; there are less than 50 cases each year in the United States. It is deadly in about one-third of all cases.
"His lungs are destroyed – more than 80 percent – and doctors are trying to see if they can get them going. If that doesn’t work, maybe a lung transplant but that's a big maybe, doctors say," Hernandez said.