Date: June 6, 1993
Source: Seattle Times
Abstract: Summer was supposed to bring thousands of tourists to this hauntingly beautiful area billed as the "heart of Indian country." But that was before a mystery illness threatened to cut the heart out of the local tourist-based economy.
As word spread that 11 people had died of the flu-like ailment in recent weeks, hotel and motel reservations were canceled by the hundreds.
Now, even after word Friday of a possible breakthrough to solve the mystery, merchants and civic leaders around the Navajo reservation of northwest New Mexico and northeastern Arizona worry about long-term economic harm.
"The damage is done, and we don't want any more damage." said Mohammad Aysheh, who owns a complex of gas stations and shops on the east edge of Gallup.
On Friday, Gov. Bruce King arrived in Gallup as medical experts in Santa Fe announced that a virus linked to rodent droppings may be the culprit in the mystery illness.
Jana Lee Aspin of the Albuquerque Visitors and Convention Bureau said yesterday that bed and breakfasts were reporting business down 50 to 60 percent, and hotels also were reporting many cancellations.
"Somewhere out there, there is a lot of sensationalism going on that
is causing panic," she said. "We've heard there are reports in the East
that people in the Albuquerque area are dying like flies" (Seattle Times, 1993).