A healthy, 29-year-old Park County sheriff's deputy died unexpectedly Monday morning from what medical authorities suspect was exposure to the rare, and often fatal, Hantavirus.
An autopsy is under way to confirm whether Deputy Joseph Edward Ybarra Hamilton died from the virus.
Hamilton, who worked for the Park County sheriff's department for two years, said he wasn't feeling well when he left work Saturday.
But it was "nothing to catch anyone's attention," said Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore.
On Monday, the department received a phone call saying Hamilton had died.
"The department is reeling a little bit," Gore said Wednesday, adding that all the indicators are there for Hantavirus, which is a respiratory disease that can be passed to humans who come in contact with infected rodents' saliva, urine or feces.
Hamilton, his wife and two young children had recently moved to a home in southeastern Park County, Gore said. Medical authorities think it's possible Hamilton caught the virus while cleaning outdoor sheds on the new property.
According to the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 624 cases of the Hantavirus nationwide since it was first documented in 1993.
There have been close to 80 reported cases in Colorado since then.
"We're certainly going to miss him," Gore said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."