Hantavirus Infection Causes Death and One Illness at Yosemite
One person has died and another has fallen ill to a rare virus known as Hantavirus, an infection caused by mouse droppings and urination.
Two campers were both diagnosed with the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which is a virus passed by exposure to mice droppings or urine. Officials believe they two people may been exposed to the virus while vacationing in Yosemite in June. The two people were not together, but were camping near each other at the same period of time. Both people came down with the HPS virus in July. State health officials routinely monitor virus activity in mouse populations. Not all deer mice carry hantavirus, but those that do have been found throughout the United States.
To help protect visitors, Yosemite National Park has increased its inspection and cleaning of rooms and cabins, state health leaders said. Park officials also are beefing up their anti-rodent work.
Since the hantavirus was first identified in 1993, 587 cases have been discovered nationally, including 60 in California. About one-third of the California cases were fatal.
The latest two infections bring the total number of hantavirus cases in the state this year to four.
What is Hantavirus?
Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick. It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with such dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time. Hantavirus does not spread between humans.
Signs and Symptoms for Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
The early symptoms of hantavirus disease are similar to the flu and include: Chills Fever Muscle aches People with hantavirus may begin to feel better for a very short amount of time, but within 1-2 days, it becomes hard to breathe. The disease gets worse quickly. Symptoms include: Dry cough General ill feeling (malaise) Headache Nausea and vomiting Shortness of breath