Yosemite, CA — It is now confirmed that at least six people have been infected with the Hantavirus in Yosemite National Park.
The six had visited the park between early June and mid-July. Two of the infected have passed away, one from Pennsylvania and the other from California. Three have recovered, and one is currently hospitalized. Four of the people, including the two that died, were lodging in the “signature cabins” of the Boystown area of Curry Village.
On August 28th, per recommendations from the California Department of Public Health, Yosemite National Park closed all tent cabins in the Boystown area indefinitely.
Guests that stayed in the Boystown area between June 10th and August 24th have been sent emails to make them aware of the Hantavirus problem, and were advised to seek medical attention if they are ill.
The following information about Hantavirus has been released by the California Department of Public Health:
Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been 63 cases (21 fatal) in California. The recent cases bring the total California case count for 2012 to seven; one of the recent patients infected in Yosemite was not a California resident.
HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with aerosolized urine, droppings or saliva of infected wild mice, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air is the most common means of acquiring infection. The illness starts 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.
When you are in wilderness areas or places where mice are present, you can take the following steps to prevent HPS:
• Avoid areas, especially indoors, where mice are likely to have been present.
• Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from mice.
• Keep mice out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where mice 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 mice and wear gloves when handling dead mice. Spray dead mice with a disinfectant and dispose of in the same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead mice.
• If there are large numbers of mice in a home or other buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.