Park officials are now warning visitors of the risks of hantavirus, which is a rodent-borne virus. HPS is contracted through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents, particularly deer mice.
Most infections occur as a result of breathing in small particles of mouse urine or droppings that are stirred up into the air.
Symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
The symptoms of HPS are flu-like and include fever, aches and chills, but the disease can progress rapidly to a life-threatening illness. The symptoms can occur from one to six weeks after exposure. Early medical attention is critical to your survival as the disease progresses rapidly to severe difficulty breathing.
Where HPS was found at Yosemite
Yosemite National Park has identified the Curry Village Signature Series Cabins (those numbered in the 900s) as the location where visitors contracted the disease. All reported cases were contracted in mid- to late-June this year in that location only.
The park closed and cleaned a large number of the tent cabins and increased rodent-proofing efforts. In addition, Yosemite National Park has set up a public information hotline (209) 372.0822, for individuals to call for additional information. The park is also contacting visitors by email to alert them to the symptoms and all visitors to the park now receive a brochure about the virus with details on how to protect themselves.
The following are the steps recommended by the Yosemite National Park and the California Department of Public Health to prevent HPS:
- Keep food stored in tightly sealed containers and off the floor of tents
- Minimize storing luggage and other materials on the floor
- Avoid stirring up dust and do not touch live or dead rodents
- If there are signs of rodent droppings in your cabin or room, contact housekeeping immediately
See the Yosemite park alert for additional information.