2nd person dies of rodent-borne disease contracted at Yosemite
A second person who visited Yosemite National Park has died after contracting a rare rodent-borne disease, officials said Monday as they warned people who have visited the park since June to seek immediate medical attention if they have symptoms associated with the hantavirus.
The person was identified as a California resident who contracted the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after visiting the park in June, the National Park Service said in a statement.
The two people who died, along with a third person confirmed with the illness and a fourth who may have contracted the disease, all stayed at the park's popular Curry Village in June, the agency said.
"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," the Park Service said. "These individuals are being informed of the recent cases and are being advised to seek immediate medical attention if they exhibit any symptoms of hantavirus."
The symptoms, which appear one to six weeks after exposure, include fever, headache and muscle ache. They can progress quickly to severe difficulty in breathing and possible death, according to officials.
The disease is caused by a virus that people contract after coming into contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents, primarily deer mice.
After reports of the visitors’ illnesses, testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Public Health identified the virus in the droppings of deer mice around the Curry Village area, park officials said.
"Yosemite National Park has conducted additional rodent trapping and is increasing rodent-proofing and trapping measures in tent cabins and buildings throughout the park. Structures throughout the park continue to be cleaned by following recommended practices and are inspected regularly," the Park Service said. "Yosemite also conducts routine rodent proofing of buildings and facilities throughout the park."
Yosemite has set up a non-emergency phone line for questions regarding the disease, which will be staffed daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: (209) 372-0822.
— Robert J. Lopez
Photo: Tents at Curry Village in October 2011. Credit: Ben Margot /Associated Press