• A hiker in Colorado came down with a severe illness that was initially thought to be COVID-19, but turned out much worse.
  • Sue Ryan thought she had COVID, but actually had an infection of hantavirus, which is often deadly.
  • Doctors moved swiftly to save her life after realizing what she really had.

When there’s a global pandemic raging and you come down with some vague symptoms that seem to match the illness that has gripped the planet, it’s easy to assume you finally came down with it. That’s what Sue Ryan of Bailey, Colorado, believed when she began experiencing a fever and headache after going on a hiking excursion. Upon being tested by doctors she got good news and terrible news.

The good news was that she hadn’t come down with COVID-19. The terrible news? She somehow contracted an even more deadly disease. Ryan was eventually diagnosed with an infection of hantavirus, which is quite rare and is often spread via mice feces.

According to reports from local news outlet KDVR, Ryan isn’t sure exactly how she came down with the infection but says that symptoms started a few days after she went hiking and camping on the Colorado Trail. In a responsible measure, she immediately got tested for COVID-19 and it came back negative, leaving her and her doctors stumped.

When her oxygen levels dropped, she got a second COVID test just to be sure, and it came back the same way. When that test was negative hospital staff pushed for additional tests and imaging. That’s when they realized that she had something even more severe in the form of the hantavirus.

“I had fluid around my lungs, fluid around my heart,” Ryan told the news outlet. “Because it’s so rare, I was actually kind of blown away. I actually got this disease and didn’t die.”

Doctors and “medical experts” apparently have no idea how Ryan could have gotten the virus, but the fact that it can come from deer mice feces — and Ryan was camping and hiking in the great outdoors — suggests that she somehow came into contact with something that was contaminated.

The good news, of course, is that Ryan survived her incredible ordeal, and it’s a huge credit to the doctors and hospital staff that they were able to figure out what was wrong before things got even worse. Hantavirus can kill easily, and when the entire medical system is on high alert for COVID, it may have been easy for them to dismiss her symptoms after a negative COVID test. They took the extra steps necessary to figure out what was really wrong, and ultimately saved her life.

“I’m very grateful to our doctors and medical system for figuring this out,” Ryan told KDVR. “I feel lucky to be on the green side. That’s what I feel.”

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.