Yosemite officials say 1,700 visitors risk disease

August 28, 2012 by Tracie Cone

(AP)—Yosemite officials told 1,700 past visitors on Tuesday they may have been exposed to a rodent-borne disease already blamed for the deaths of two people who stayed in cabins at the national park.

Four people who spent time in Signature Tent Cabins at Curry Village around the same time in June have contracted pulmonary syndrome, an illness spread by feces, urine and .

One of the people who died was from outside California. The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the death within the past few days. Two other people were infected and expected to survive.

The disease can incubate for up to six weeks before flu-like symptoms develop. It's fatal in 30 percent of all cases, and there is no specific treatment.

"This is certainly an issue and we're getting word out," said spokesman Scott Gediman. "We're very concerned about visitors and employees, but we feel we are taking proactive steps in both cleaning the affected areas and in ."

Rangers were handing out brochures about hantavirus to guests as they entered the park. In addition, guests checking into cabins at the family friendly Curry Village were being warned about the outbreak and what precautions they should take.

"This is a serious public health issue and we want to be transparent, but at the same time we don't want people to alter their plans because we are taking the necessary precautions," Gediman said.

After word of the first death came earlier this month, employees of park concessionaire Delaware North Co. disinfected the 408 canvas-sided and wood-sided cabins in Curry Village. The 91 signature cabins where all four victims stayed were being shored up in an attempt to make them more rodent-proof.

Park officials said none of the victims had anything in common other than staying in cabins between June 10 and June 20. A 37-year-old man from the was one of the victims who died. Details about the others have not been released because of medical privacy laws.

Thousands of people visit the park every month, so it would be impossible to track everyone who had set foot in Curry Village, officials said.

"There are rodents and some are infected and that's what happens," Gediman said. "This is a wilderness setting. It has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the cabins."

Of the 587 documented U.S. cases since the virus was identified in 1993, about one-third proved fatal.

This year's deaths mark the first such fatalities of park visitors, although two others were stricken in a more remote area in 2000 and 2010, officials said.

The century-old Curry Village is a collection of cabins that, at roughly $140 a night, are the most economical lodging in the park. At the other end of the lodging spectrum is the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, where rooms can be $500 a night.

Located at the base of 3,000-foot Glacier Point, Curry Village has been in the news in recent years for being located in a rockfall hazard zone. After boulders rained down on the village in 2008, the park permanently closed some of the cabins. These newer, insulated Signature Cabins were built in 2009 to replace them.

Explore further: 2nd Yosemite visitor dies of rodent-borne illness

More information: CDC on hantavirus: www.cdc.gov/hantavirus

shares

Related Stories

2nd Yosemite visitor dies of rodent-borne illness

August 28, 2012
(AP)—About 1,700 people who stayed in tent cabins at Yosemite National Park this summer were warned Tuesday they may have been exposed to a deadly rodent-borne virus blamed for the deaths of two campers.

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.