Yosemite Virus Still a Danger For Campers

    September 4, 2012
    Sean Patterson
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Two weeks ago it was announced that an outbreak of a rare disease had been linked to a campsite at Yosemite National Park. At the time, one man had died and a woman was gravely ill from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a deadly virus spread by rodents. The park suggested that people seek out medical treatment if they developed any symptoms, which are generally flu-like at the outset.

Since that time, it has become clear that the hantavirus outbreak isn’t yet contained. The infected woman succumbed to the disease and four new cases were identified. Just before the holiday weekend, it was made clear that the national park was working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the outbreak and identify new cases.

“CDPH is working closely with the National Park Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to further investigate the cluster of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome cases in Yosemite and reduce the risk of other visitors becoming ill from this virus,” said CDPH Director Dr. Ron Chapman on August 30. “CDPH is continuing to monitor cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in persons who visited Yosemite National Park.”

The park has begun scaling up its public awareness campaign, and has begun contacting campers who have stayed at Yosemite’s Curry Village in recent months. Around 3,000 people have been contacted and informed of hantavirus symptoms. The campsite has not been closed.

“The park and public health officials are contacting visitors and raising awareness in the medical community to increase the chances that any additional cases that may be incubating will be successfully diagnosed and treated early,” stated Dr. Danielle Buttke, an epidemiologist with the National Park Service Office of Public Health.

Luckily, the four people confirmed to have hantavirus who haven’t died are reported to be improving or recovered. Still, hantavirus can be extremely deadly. While the early symptoms of the disease are generally flu-like, they can include coughing, malaise, headache, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. If not treated promptly, the virus can cause lung, kidney, and/or heart failure. The disease is spread by rodent urine, droppings, and saliva, particularly of deer mice.

  • Chief Tenaya

    You know Yosemite Valley is much like a box canyon, with high granite walls, a mile wide, 7 miles long. It appears the Park Service was warned 3 years ago about the virus, yet did nothing to educate the visitor. However they did train their own staff, Humm, Sounds just a cash cow for someone with out any heart for the safety of the visitor.
    You know the Paiutes used to burn everything when they left for the hard winters, and when the spring came there was new growth. I guess you cant do that anymore since you made Curry Village the mouse banquet of left overs. Sounds like we sell out for the booking fees and not integrity! Oh yeah, before I go, Did you ever consider getting a Cat?

  • Chief Tenaya

    Park and health officials in “late July” knew a 49-year-old Southern California woman had possibly contracted the rodent-borne virus at Curry Village in June. Experts determined the connection was too tenuous to make an announcement. A state epidemiologist said a single case wasn’t unusual enough.

    About a week later, Aug. 9, state health officials were investigating the first case at the park when they learned of a second hantavirus case also possibly involving a June stay at Curry Village. That victim, a 36-year-old Alameda County man, died July 31.

  • Chief Tenaya

    By Aug. 10, the Curry Village-hantavirus connection had been more firmly established. Yet, apparently due to disagreements among park and health officials about timing the news’ release, still another week passed before word got out.

    • The state Public Health Department finally issued an Aug. 16 statement confirming the first two cases and their connection to Curry Village.

  • Chief Tenaya

    While news reports two weeks after the fact may have reached many visitors or potential visitors, still another two weeks passed before the park began to directly contact people — that is, via email — who’d stayed at the park between June and August of the possibility of hantavirus exposure. Those emails started going out the night of Monday, Aug. 27.

    The delays are inexcusable and could have put visitors in the first and second weeks of August in harm’s way.

  • http://dermatint.com/ Maria Jones

    i like camping. The tent, fire, jungle, a lake around this so romantic but not on this site. :) this seems to be very dangerous