Three Yosemite Deaths From Rare Hantavirus
Yosemite National Park, September 6, 2012
Today, The National Park Service is confirming eight cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) which has resulted in the deaths of three, with five others improving or recovering.
The confirmed cases include six individuals from California, one from Pennsylvania, and one from West Virginia.
HPS is a rare but serious disease that occurs throughout the United States and is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been approximately 60 cases in California and 602 cases nationally. Nationwide, approximately 20 percent of mice carry hantavirus.
According to the CDC, symptoms of HPS generally begin from one to five weeks after exposure. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, chills, and muscle aches. About half of patients will experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and abdominal pain. The disease progresses rapidly (4-10 days after initial symptoms) to include coughing, shortness of breath and severe difficulty breathing. Early medical attention greatly increases the chance of survival in cases of HPS.
It is recommended that if a recent visitor to Yosemite National Park has any of the symptoms listed above, that they seek medical attention immediately and advise their health care professional of the potential exposure to hantavirus.
The confirmed cases have been found in individuals who spent one or more nights in the park between June 10 and late August of this year in the “Signature Tent Cabins” located in Curry Village. Those cabins have been closed and parties who stayed overnight since June 10 have been reached out to by the park or the operator of Curry Village, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
The park is distributing hantavirus information to every visitor entering Yosemite and notices are posted throughout the park. In addition, a call center has been established for questions and concerns related to hantavirus in Yosemite (209) 372-0822. The phones are staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit the CDC’s hantavirus website at https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/index.html.