Hantavirus, a rare disease contracted from rodents, has killed a second person visiting Yosemite National Park as the park cautioned vacationers to be on the lookout for symptoms of the condition.
"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," Yosemite NationalPark Superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement. "Because people often don't get sick from hantavirus until one to six weeks after exposure, we are encouraging anyone who stayed in Curry Village since June to be aware of the symptoms of hantavirus and seek medical attention at the first sign of illness."
Hantavirus is a rare but serious condition acquired through the urine, droppings or saliva of rodents, with deer mice the most often type of rodent infected with the virus.
Early symptoms include fever and aches, especially in the thighs, hips, back and shoulders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other early symptoms include headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
About four to 10 days after contractive hantavirus, infected people usually exhibit coughing and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.
The agency said hantavirus is fatal 38 percent of the time.
Hantavirus was found in four Yosemite National Park visitors who visited the area in June. Over the weekend, the park confirmed a second fatality due to hantavirus - the third diagnosis of the virus among parkgoers. Yosemite also discovered a "probable" fourth case of the virus.
The park's warning about the symptoms of hantavirus was directed at Yosemite National Park visitors who stayed at the Signature Tent Cabins at the park's Curry Village from mid-June through the end of August.
"These individuals are being informed of the recent cases and are being advised to seek immediate medical attention if they exhibit any symptoms of hantavirus," the park said.
Visitors of the park who are concerned they may have hantavirus or want more information were urged to call the park's non-emergency hotline at 209-372-0822.
Precautions can be taken to prevent the contraction of hantavirus, with Yosemite offering the following tips:
- Avoid areas, especially indoors, where wild rodents are likely to have been present.
- Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from rodents.
- Keep rodents out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where rodents could enter.
- When cleaning asleeping or living area, open windows to air out the areas for at least two hours before entering. Take care not to stir up dust. Wear plastic gloves and spray areas contaminated with rodent droppings and urine with a 10% bleach solution or other household disinfectants and wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Place the waste in double plastic bags, each tightly sealed, and discard in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly afterward.
- Do not touch or handle live rodents and wear gloves when handling dead rodents. Spray dead rodents with a disinfectant and dispose of in the same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead rodents.
- If there are large numbers of rodents in a home or other buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.