Health Warning from Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California has been forced to issue health warnings due to the presence of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the park. They issued the public health warning after the third confirmed case of HPS contracted by a person who had visited the park this summer.

The park is trying to contact all visitors who stayed in ‘Signature Tent Cabins’ in Curry Village any time during the months of June through August. The park is warning anyone who visited during this time frame to seek immediate medical attention if they begin to show any symptoms associated with HPS. The rare but deadly disease presents first with symptoms of fever and aches. Those who seek medical attention quickly have the highest rate of survival, as the disease can quickly progress to life-threatening respiratory issues.

The virus is spread via infected rodents, including deer mice. The infections occur when small particles of mouse urine or droppings are carried in the air and breathed in by humans. Symptoms may show up any time from one to six weeks after exposure.

Some steps can be taken by those staying in an area where mice are known to exist:

1. Keep food in tightly sealed containers to avoid attracting mice.
2. Keep stacked wood or other items that might attract rodents far from any buildings.
3. If entering a cabin where mice may have been present, open windows to air out the building for at least two hours before entering. Spray areas where mice droppings are found with a 10% bleach solution, then wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Throw away any associated waste in double plastic bags then wash hands.

The National Park Service Office of Public Health continues to work with the Centers for Disease Control to get the word out to the public about this outbreak, and to increase the public’s awareness of the disease.

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