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Yosemite Takes Additional Steps Against Deadly Virus

Yosemite, CA – There are two more cases of the deadly Hantavirus pulmonary
syndrome (HPS). The National Park Service Office of Public Health learned over the weekend of a confirmed third case, which resulted in a fatality, and probable fourth case, individuals who visited Yosemite National Park in June of this year.

Park Officials say an outreach effort is currently underway by the park concessioner to contact visitors who stayed in “Signature Tent Cabins” at Curry Village from mid-June through the end of August. They say these individuals are being informed of the recent cases and are being advised to seek immediate medical attention if they exhibit any symptoms of the virus.

Public Health Officials say HPS is a rare but serious disease that occurs throughout the United States. They say early medical attention is critical for individuals who contract the virus. Public Health Officials say the disease begins with fever and aches, but can progress rapidly to a life-threatening illness.

Yosemite National Park has set up a general, non-emergency phone line for all questions and concerns related to hantavirus in Yosemite National Park. The phone number is (209) 372-0822 and it will be staffed from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.

Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher says “The health of our visitors is our paramount concern and we are making every effort to notify and inform our visitors of any potential illness,” Neubacher added “Because people often don’t get sick from hantavirus until one to six weeks after exposure, we are encouraging anyone who stayed in Curry Village since June to be aware of the symptoms of hantavirus and seek medical attention at the first
sign of illness”.

The National Park Service Office of Public Health has issued a call for cases to state and local health departments nationwide, and is working with
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to heighten public health awareness and detection. Park Officials say they have also increased public education efforts geared towards visitors and park employees. They say this includes distributing information to all visitors entering the park,
information at Curry Village registration area, and notifications throughout the park.

Park Officials report California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Yosemite National Park Public Health Service officers conduct periodic rodent surveys to monitor deer mouse abundance and virus activity in mouse populations. They say Yosemite
National Park has conducted additional rodent trapping and is increasing rodent-proofing and trapping measures in tent cabins and buildings throughout the park. Park Officials say structures throughout the park continue to be cleaned by following recommended practices and are inspected regularly. They say they
also conduct routine rodent proofing of buildings and facilities throughout the park.

The Park reports since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been approximately 60cases in California and 587 cases nationally. About one third of HPS cases
identified have been fatal.

Health Officials say HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the
urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents, primarily deer mice. They say not all deer mice carry Hantavirus, but deer mice with Hantavirus have been found throughout the United States. They say most infections are caused by breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air. Health Officials say if the virus is contracted, the symptoms appear one to six weeks after exposure with fever, headache, and muscle ache, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death. Health Officials say early medical attention can greatly increase the chance of survival, so it is important to seek medical attention immediately if an individual experiences any of these symptoms and may have been exposed to rodents.

Park Officials offer these tips when people are in wilderness areas or places that harbor mice, individuals can take the following steps to prevent HPS:

• 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.

 

• When cleaning a 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.

 

Click here for more information on the HPS and prevention.