2012-09-06 / Front Page

Hantavirus update: No new cases reported this week

Yosemite officials on Sept. 6 reported the death of a third hantavirus victim who had stayed in the Park this summer.

The visitor, a man from West Virginia, died in July after a June visit to the Park, officials said.

This week, as of Sept. 12, Yosemite officials have started trapping and killing deer mice thought to be responsible for spreading hantavirus in the Curry Village area, the Reuters news agency said.

"From an ecological perspective, it appears that there was an unnaturally high population of rodents in the area," National Park Service epidemiologist Danielle Buttke told Reuters. "We are being proactive and reducing the population."

Close to 2,000 European visitors to Yosemite may have exposed to the virus over the past three months, according to a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control On Sept. 5.

Yosemite and California health officials have sent warnings to health officials in 39 other countries to watch citizens recently returned from Yosemite National Park for symptoms of the deadly hantavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said up to 10,000 Yosemite visitors may have been exposed to the virus--which is spread via inhaled particles from deer mouse urine and feces. As many as 2,500 of those visitors may now have returned home to other countries, National Park Service public health expert Dr. David Wong said.

Park officials have closed 91 tent cabins at Curry Village whose design apparently harbors mice that could carry the deadly hantavirus.

On Aug. 31, Mariposa County Health Officer Dr. Charles Mosher said state experts had informed him of test results for Yosemite mice trapped over the previous week.

A total of 13.7 percent of the mice tested positive for antibodies to hantavirus--very close to the state average of 14 percent.

This year's deaths mark the first such deaths in Park visitors, although two others were stricken in a more remote area in 2000 and 2010, officials said.

Image: GAZETTE photo illustration.

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Retrofitting is a waste of

Retrofitting is a waste of time. It's a wildneress area, the mice will get in no matter what you do.

Just wondering why in all the

Just wondering why in all the photos I have seen of either people cleaning cabins or taking samples from potentially infected areas the people working are not wearing masks for possible virus inhalation protection?

Vicki: What I heard in

Vicki: What I heard in talking to several public health professionals is that respirators are only used in cases of very heavy infestation. Wetting with the bleach solution is thought to be precaution enough in most cases. See this week's story on hantavirus safety in the Sept. 6 MARIPOSA GAZETTE. --E.S.

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