Another visitor to Yosemite National Park this summer who contracted the hantavirus while staying in the popular Curry Village has died, park officials said Monday.
That makes three confirmed cases, including two deaths. A fourth case, also reported Monday, is being investigated.
The National Parks Service on Tuesday warned 1700 recent visitors via email that they might have been exposed
All four visitors stayed in Curry Village, a collection of tents and cabins at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, over a one-week period in mid-June. Park officials are now contacting everyone who has stayed in the tent cabins since mid-June to warn them about the virus and advise them to seek medical attention if they have any symptoms of infection.
“This is being taken very seriously,” said park spokesman Scott Gediman. “We’ve been able to isolate the cabin area, we’ve done the thorough cleaning, we’re monitoring the area, we’re trapping mice and testing them. We’re making sure the cabins are shored up. We’re being very active, and we have been since the cases came to light.”
Hantavirus is a rare viral infection carried by mice and other rodents and passed to humans by the animals’ feces or urine. Most people infected with the virus suffer flu-like symptoms first, including fever, headache, and muscle pains, often in the thighs, back and hips. After two to seven days, many patients have severe difficulty breathing and can die.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of June 29, 2012, 602 cases of suspected hantavirus infection had been reported nationwide, with 37 of those cases reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Infection became a reportable disease in Texas in 1993. The first case was reported to the state health department that year.