Yosemite National Park Warns 1,700 Visitors They Might Have Gotten A Rodent-Borne Disease

Any of the 1,700 people who visited Yosemite National Park and stayed in some of its quaintest rustic tent cabins in June, July or August should take note — park officials are warning visitors from this summer that they maybe could’ve caught a rare rodent-borne disease called hantavirus. So far two visitors have died from the disease and two others have fallen ill.

The four people who came down with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome stayed in one of 91 “Signature Tent Cabins” at Curry Village around the same time in June. Humans can catch the virus if they come in contact with rodent feces, urine and saliva or by inhaling particles.

At first, park officials sanitized the cabins and told the public that the cause of death in the first case might have been caused by diseased mice. Now the Centers for Disease Control has determined that  the second death was also likely linked to Yosemite, reports the Associated Press.

Contracting a deadly disease is something that can happen when you’re in the wilderness, said a Yosemite spokesman.

“We’re very concerned about visitors and employees,” park spokesman Scott Gediman said. “But we feel we are taking proactive steps in both cleaning the affected areas and in public education. But it’s absolutely impossible to eliminate all risk.”

Around four million people visit the park every year from around the world, so officials are trying to figure out if they need to warn other countries as well.

Hantavirus can lie dormant in the system for up to six weeks before flu-like symptoms start to show. Humans can’t spread it to each other.

Meanwhile as travelers head to the park for Labor Day weekend, Yosemite officials aren’t notifying future visitors of the dangers, but are telling them during check-in to keep an eye out for mice droppings.

“This is a serious public health issue and we want to be transparent, but at the same time we don’t want people to alter their plans, because we are taking the necessary precautions,” the spokesman said.

Scientists at the park are currently trying to trap rodents and test them, as well as try to determine whether the rodent population is abnormally high.

For more information on the hantavirus, check out the CDC’s site: http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus

Yosemite officials say 1,700 visitors risk disease [Associated Press]



Edit Your Comment

  1. deathbecomesme says:

    See what happens when you live a sheltered life and use antibacterial your whole life!

    • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

      Except that hantavirus (and some others related to it) have been around much longer than antibacterial soaps, gells, wipes, etc.

      • Pants O Doom says:

        Except that the comment seems to be relying more on the fact that using anti-bacterial items for an extended period tends to weaken the immune system, because it then does not have to combat as many threats.

        But I can’t know exactly what either of you meant, so who can say for certain.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        No no no. This is the XG7 strain of the mutated P99 version of hantavirus. It’s completely immune to purse-carried bottles of hand gel and brand name wipes. If it sees you try to use that stuff…WHAM! It gets pissed off and goes all superbug on your ass.

    • Smiling says:

      Hanta is a virus, not a bacteria.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Ah yes, the little-known hanta virus.

  3. Mr_Magoo says:

    Somebody warn Richard Gere!

  4. who? says:

    I’ve always thought that Curry Village was ripe for something like this. If you’ve never seen it, Curry Village looks like something straight out of the Grapes of Wrath. There are rows and rows of canvas tents, stretching seemingly for miles, all about 3 feet apart from each other, with tons of kids running around in the dirt. The pictures on the Yosemite website show the only two tents that aren’t right on top of each other. I suppose it’s a cheap way to see Yosemite, but it’s definitely something from a bygone era. Quaint isn’t exactly the word.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Except it wasn’t the tent dwellers who may have been exposed to the virus as much as folks renting cabins there.

      • wheeitsme2 says:

        Curry Village has -Tent Cabins- The base and skeletal structure of a cabin with canvas sides and top.

        It was folks who stayed in the tent cabins that got sick and died from the virus. Considering the amount of infected rodents and the age of a lot of the structures through-out Yosemite, I really am suprised that it doesn’t strike more often in more structures.

    • NotEd says:

      Sounds like Boy Scout camp, frankly.
      With a bit of packing them in like sardines for good measure.

  5. ccwax says:

    I go to Yosemite 6+ times a year but have never stayed in Curry Village. It LOOKS nice, but I saw the TripAdvisor pics of droppings in the drawers and mouse holes duct taped over. All for the glorious price of $150 a night?

    I’ll backpack and take my chances with the bears.

  6. wheeitsme2 says:

    Weird. I worked in Yosemite from 1994-2002 and while we were always given warnings, nobody ever really got sick. Heck, I worked some of that time in a 2 story original building. Sometimes if somebody walked across the 2 floor storage area you’d see particulates drift down.

    I was more worried about getting bit by a plague/rabies carrying rodent. Yep, a portion of those cute mice/squirrels/chipmunks that you are letting little susie feed have rabies and/or the bubonic plague.

  7. PragmaticGuy says:

    This is why most of my vacations are cruises. At worst I’ll contract norovirus.