Microbe: Are We Ready for the Next Plague?

By Alan P. Zelicoff; Michael Bellomo | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
ARROYO MUERTE
Sin Nombre Hantavirus

With its rugged southwest terrain and open azure sky, the Four Corners area of northwestern New Mexico is achingly beautiful. It is called the Four Corners because it is the only place in the United States where the borders of four states touch—Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. At the Four Corners monument, a stone plaza marks the exact spot where the borders come together.

Perhaps the most popular picture taken by visitors to the site is one where they lie down in the plaza's center, then stretch out their arms and legs so that their bodies reach across four different states. Yet, on the whole, the Four Corners region is a quiet place. It's off the beaten path, so it doesn't bring in hordes of tourists. In the spring and summer of 1993, it also held a dark secret: Something was killing young, healthy people amidst the land's almost surreal splendor.


AN INTERRUPTED WEDDING

Contrary to what many people envision when they think about New Mexico, the state does not look like the postcard-perfect arid canyons of Monument Valley or the sandy forests of giant saguaro cacti near Tucson, Arizona. New Mexico actually gets a surprising amount of rain, and dustings of snow in the state capital of Santa Fe are not an uncommon occurrence. Even so,

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