Park officials close tent cabins indefinitely while investigation continues
CURRY VILLAGE – Once again the Hantavirus has been identified in someone who stayed in the “Signature Cabins” of the Boystown area of Curry Village in Yosemite National Park, prompting park officials to close the cabins where five of the six infections occured.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reported the discovery of two additional cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This brings to six the number of people infected with the hantavirus who have visitied Yosemite National Park. Two of those six have died.
“CDPH is working closely with the National Park Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to further investigate the cluster of HPS cases in Yosemite and reduce the risk of other visitors becoming ill from this virus,” said CDPH Director, Dr. Ron Chapman. “CDPH is continuing to monitor cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in persons who visited Yosemite National Park.”
To date, HPS has been confirmed in six persons who visited the park between early June and mid July 2012. Five were identified as California residents, and one a resident of Pennsylvania. The patient from Pennsylvania and one from California have died. Three have recovered and one is currently hospitalized but improving.
Four, including both fatalities, lodged in the “signature cabins” of the Boystown area of Curry Village, one lodged in an unspecified area of Curry Village, and one is still under investigation.
The six individuals infected are residents from the Sacramento region, San Francisco Bay area, Southern California and one from Pennsylvania.
On August 28, per recommendations from CDPH, Yosemite National Park closed all tent cabins in the Boystown area indefinitely. The National Park Service has issued communications to guests who had stayed in the Boystown area between June 10 and August 24, alerting them to the HPS concerns and recommending that they seek medical attention if ill.
Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been 63 cases (21 fatal) in California. The recent cases bring the total California case count for 2012 to nine; one of the recent patients infected in Yosemite was not a California resident.
HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with aerosolized urine, droppings or saliva of infected wild mice, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air is the most common means of acquiring infection. The illness starts 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. When you are in wilderness areas or places where mice are present, you can take the following steps to prevent HPS:
· Avoid areas, especially indoors, where mice are likely to have
· Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from
· Keep mice out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish
piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where
mice could enter.
· If you can clean your sleeping or living area, open windows to
air out the areas for at least two hours before entering. Take care not
to stir up dust. Wear plastic gloves and spray areas contaminated with
rodent droppings and urine with a 10% bleach solution or other household
disinfectants and wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area.
Place the waste in double plastic bags, each tightly sealed, and discard
in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly afterward.
· Do not touch or handle live mice and wear gloves when handling
dead mice. Spray dead mice with a disinfectant and dispose of in the
same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead mice.
· If there are large numbers of mice in a home or other
buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.
A non-emergency phone line for questions and concerns related to hantavirus in Yosemite has been set up. Visitors with questions can call (209) 372-0822. The phones will be staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. For media inquiries related to Yosemite National Park activities, contact Scott Gediman of the National Park Service at (209) 372-0248.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit CDPH’s Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Hantavirus Web site page at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/