Officials from Yosemite National Park are reaching out to an estimated 1,700 past visitors for fear they have been exposed to a rare rodent-borne disease.
In the wake of the recent diagnosis of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in two Californians, one of whom died, the National Park Service warns that Yosemite visitors who stayed in “Signature Tent Cabins” at Curry Village from mid-June through the end of August could also be at risk for the illness.
HPS symptoms begin typically as fever and aches, and the rare but serious disease can progress rapidly; officials urge anyone with symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.
Little information has been released regarding those who fell ill with HPS, though they shared the commonality of having stayed at Curry Village in Yosemite between June 10 and 20 this year. The one fatality was a 37-year-old man from the San Francisco bay area, reports the Associated Press.
Hantavirus is spread through contact with the urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents--primarily deer mice. That contact often comes from breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings stirred up in the air.
"The health of our visitors is our paramount concern and we are making every effort to notify and inform our visitors of any potential illness," said Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent.
Yosemite National Park has set up a general, non-emergency phone line for all questions and concerns related to hantavirus in Yosemite National Park. The phone number is 209-372-0822 and it will be staffed from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily.