Hantavirus Investigation at Yosemite Continues

By Lauren Sommer

Curry Village tent cabins at Yosemite National Park. (Jun Seita: Flickr)

Curry Village tent cabins at Yosemite National Park. (Jun Seita: Flickr)

State public health officials are warning 1,700 people who stayed in Yosemite National Park‘s Curry Village tent cabins since mid-June about hantavirus. Three people who stayed in the tent cabins this summer have contracted the illness and two people have died. There may be a fourth case as well.

A group of the tent cabins are closed as public health officials investigate the cases. The state health department had previously warned the park about the risk.

Hantavirus is a serious illness which causes flu-like symptoms. It can progress rapidly and has a 38 percent mortality rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There is no known treatment, although prompt admission to the ICU and oxygen therapy can be helpful.

The virus is spread through mouse droppings, says Vicki Kramer, Ph.D., Chief of the Vector-Borne Disease Section of the California Department of Public Health.

“If rodents do invade an area, it’s important not to sweep, not to vacuum because that causes the virus to become airborne,” she said.

Hantavirus is rare. There have been only 60 cases in the last two decades in California. Kramer’s department has been working with the park since two previous hantavirus cases in 2000 and 2010. Continue reading