Deadly Hantavirus Outbreak in Yosemiteby Duane Raleigh Sep/2012
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Hantavirus has claimed a third victim in Yosemite National Park. Eight people have been infected with the disease carried by rodents and attributed to deer mice in the canvas cabin's of Curry Village.
Yosemite National Park officials say 22,000 people may have been exposed to hantavirus, 10,000 of them thought to be at risk by having stayed at the cabins. Some 2,500 of the at-risk visitors are international and have since left the U.S. There is no cure for hantavirus, but oxygen treatment can reduce the chance of death.
The third victim was from West Virginia and died at the end of July, with the death due to hantavirus confirmed yesterday. For a report on the other two deaths click HERE.
Six people who visited Yosemite between early June and mid July 2012 had been confirmed with hantavirus. Five are from California and one is from Pennsylvania. Three have now died including the Pennsylvania resident. The iconic cabin tents of Curry Village are popular with tourists, but climbers and especially those with their families, also stay in there.
Curry Village has been closed and California health officials have issued the following guidelines:
• Avoid areas, especially indoors, where mice are likely to have been present.
• Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from mice.
• 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.