According to the National Park Service, nine individuals have been infected with hantavirus after spending time at Yosemite National Park. Infections began in June, and the park is currently working to spread awareness of the outbreak in order to reduce further infections. Out of the nine reported cases, three have been fatal. The other six have made recoveries.
Hantavirus is a relatively new infection. It was first identified in 1993, and has since infected 600 people in the United States. The virus is spread through contact with the urine, feces, or saliva of infected rodents. Infections primarily occur when people breathe in air contaminated with the dust of infected rodent droppings. It is estimated that 12 percent of deer mice carry hantavirus. The virus cannot be spread between humans.
Once infected, the virus can incubate for one to five weeks before symptoms appear. According to the park service advisory, “Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, chills, and muscle aches. About half of patients will experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and abdominal pain. The disease progresses rapidly (4–10 days after initial symptoms) to include coughing, shortness of breath, and severe difficulty breathing. Early medical attention greatly increases the chance of survival in cases of HPS.” Read the full report on hantavirus in Yosemite at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/hantafaq_9-9.pdf
If you or anyone you know has been to Yosemite this summer please keep an eye on them. If they show any of these symptoms get them checked out right away. Early detection and treatment can help greatly! Although the virus is rare, it’s best to spread awareness in the hopes that infected individuals will receive proper treatment. Please spread the word to anybody you know staying in Yosemite.
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