Yosemite National Park issued a release Friday saying the agency continues to scale up its public health response and outreach as a result of six confirmed cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome detected in people who visited the park in June.
Two people have died. The other four are improving or have recovered.
The National Park Service Office of Public Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to heighten public health awareness and detection and has issued a call for cases to state and local health departments nationwide.
Hantavirus is a rare but serious disease caused by a virus humans contract through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. The types of Hantavirus that cause HPS in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Early medical attention is critical for individuals who contract Hantavirus.
“Early medical attention and diagnosis of Hantavirus are critical,” Don Neubacher, Superintendent of Yosemite National Park, said in a statement. “We urge anyone who may have been exposed to the infection to see their doctor at the first sign of symptoms and to advise them of the potential of Hantavirus.”
Park officials said an "extensive outreach effort is underway" by Yosemite National Park and the park concessioner to contact visitors who stayed in the “Signature Tent Cabins” at Yosemite’s Curry Village since mid-June where four of the confirmed cases have stayed.
Approximately 3,000 registered parties have been contacted through email, mail or phone calls to inform them of the recent cases of Hantavirus and to advise them to seek immediate medical attention if they exhibit any symptoms of the virus.
Two community and employee meetings were held in Yosemite National Park this week discuss awareness and precautions related to Hantavirus. In addition, a non-emergency phone line has been set up–for questions and concerns related to Hantavirus in Yosemite (209) 372-0822. The phones are staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Hantavirus information is distributed to every visitor entering Yosemite and notices are posted throughout the park.
Most infections are caused by breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air. 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.
The National Park Service has closed the Signature Tent Cabins at Yosemite and intensified building inspections and assessments and cleanings throughout the park.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit the CDC’s Hantavirus website at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/index.html.