Ninth Victim of Deadly Rodent-Borne Illness
Public health officials reported that a California resident was the latest victim of a hantavirus infection.
The Curry Village Outbreak
According to National Park Service spokesman John Quinley, the California resident was the ninth person to have been infected with the disease, and was exposed to the rodent-borne illness in early July while staying two nights in a tent cabin in Curry Village in Yosemite National Park.
- 3 visitors who contracted the disease while staying in the same type of cabin during June have died.
- 4 others were hospitalized and are recovering or have recovered.
- 1 camper, while in the Tuolumne Meadows area of the park in July exhibited mild symptoms of hantavirus and is recovering. This case, however, is not believed to be connected with the Curry Village outbreak.
Details of the Disease
Hantavirus is spread through contract with droppings, urine or saliva of infected rodents – primarily deer mice. Sweeping the ground can spread the disease by stirring up the dried particles into the air and making exposure more likely.
Symptoms of the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome:
- Aches similar to the flu
- Can move on to respiratory problems, which can result in death.
The fatality rate for hantavirus is greater than 30%.
Aftermath & Prevention
Yosemite officials have increased efforts to inform visitors about the outbreak.
- Notifications were sent out to 230,000 more guests.
- The park attempted to notify the 29,000 guests who stayed in Curry Village and Tuolumne Meadows camps from June – September.
- The “signature tent cabins” in Curry Village have since been closed indefinitely while inspectors determine how or if they can be permanently sealed from rodents.
- Park officials said the design of the cabins may have contributed to the outbreak.
- Other areas in Yosemite remain open, but increased rodent trapping and proofing has been conducted to study the deer mice population and prevent any further hantavirus exposures.
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