Last week we told you about an outbreak of the Hantavirus in Yosemite National Park that resulted in the deaths of two people with a possible exposure to hundreds more. Now the true scope of that exposure is becoming more clear as the National Park Service has warned that as many as ten thousand people may be at risk. Worse yet, the NPS says that 2500 of those could be from up to 39 different countries around the globe.
The first cases of the virus, which is carried by mice, squirrels and other rodents, were traced back to Yosemite’s Curry Village, a camp ground of sorts that featured a number of tent cabins. The initial health warning for the disease went out to 3100 people who stayed in those tents between June 10 and August 24 of this year. The letter urged anyone who felt ill with flu-like symptoms to seek immediate medical attention. So far there have been six confirmed cases including the two fatalities.
Park officials are now blaming the exposure to the virus on a design flaw in the tent cabins they use at Curry Village. That flaw allowed mice to get inside the walls of shelters where they would leave droppings and other waste. The disease spreads through exposure to those droppings, as well as saliva and urine from the infected rodent, and can take anywhere from one to six weeks for the first symptoms to manifest. There is no cure for the Hantavirus, although early detection greatly increases the chance of survival.
The National Park Service continues to maintain a help line for anyone who has concerns regarding the Hantavirus. They can be reached at 209-372-0822 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.