Yosemite National Park
This week Yosemite National Park expanded its warning to visitors about exposure to hantavirus. At this time, the Park is cautioning over 20,000 people may have been exposed to the mouse-borne disease.
Digital Journalreported last month thousands of visitors to Yosemite National Park were exposed to the deadly lung disease. At that time, the park had sent out warning letters to some visitors. Now officials are concerned that many more people may have been exposed to the disease.
U.S. officials have now expanded the worldwide alert. The Toronto Star reported officials say 22,000 people may have been exposed to hantavirus during visits to the Curry Village and High Sierra Camps lodging areas between June and August this year. As many as 2,500 of individuals at risk who visited the park live outside the U.S.
According to an announcement placed on Yosemite National Park's website, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has confirmed cases of hantavirus linked directly to the park. To date, eight people have been infected, three of whom died from their exposure.
Initially, the disease was linked, and appeared to be limited, to Curry Village, however one confirmed case of hantavirus was found up in the higher areas where High Sierra Camps is located. Concern is that tens of thousands of people may become sick as hantavirus is known to incubate for up to six weeks after initial exposure.
Hantavirus is a rare disease, but a serious one. It is carried in rodent droppings, urine and saliva and can contaminate dust. If inhaled or consumed by humans eating contaminated food, it can be deadly. The sickness can be initially mistaken for flu, but symptoms worsen over time. Early detection is critical.
At this time, the Curry Village facilities are closed for an undetermined amount of time while health officials investigate. The park notes that people can still come visit the park, but should heed precautions in order to stay safe. A list of suggestions is outlined on the park's website and detailed information is also the National Institutes of Health website.