Yosemite National Park officials now say eight park visitors have been diagnosed by national and state public health agencies with the potentially deadly hantavirus after staying at the park.
Three of the victims have died, and five are in various stages of recovery, according to the park.
The park said the third victim was a man from West Virginia.
For the first time, a park visitor is said to have contracted the virus who did not stay at Curry Village. According to a press release, one of the new patients stayed in multiple High Sierra Camps in July. The high camp area is miles away from the valley floor. The unidentified person is said to be recovering.
The other seven cases have all been connected to the Curry Village tent cabins. Those cabins have recently been closed to the public.
Yosemite is now reaching out to park visitors across the country and around the world who stayed in Curry Village tent cabins or the high camp area any time from June 10 to late-August.
“We want to make sure that visitors have clear information about this rare virus and understand the importance of early medical care,” said Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher. “We continue to work closely with state and national public health officials, and we urge visitors who may have been exposed to hantavirus to seek medical attention at the first sign of symptoms.”
The confirmed hantavirus cases include six individuals from California, one from Pennsylvania, and one from West Virginia.
Hantavirus is a rare but serious disease that's caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents.
Since it 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 park officials.
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.
CDPH officials issued the following advice for those going to wilderness areas where mice area present:
- Avoid areas, especially indoors, where wild rodents are likely to have been present.
- Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from rodents.
- Keep rodents out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where rodents could enter.
- If you can clean your sleeping or living area, open windows to air out the areas for at least two hours before entering. Take care not to stir up dust. Wear plastic gloves and spray areas contaminated with rodent droppings and urine with a 10% bleach solution or other household disinfectants and wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Place the waste in double plastic bags, each tightly sealed, and discard in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly afterward
- Do not touch or handle live rodents and wear gloves when handling dead rodents. Spray dead rodents with a disinfectant and dispose of in the same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead rodents.
- If there are large numbers of rodents in a home or other buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit the CDC's hantavirus website.