The recent Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) outbreaks in Curry Village and High Sierra Camps inside Yosemite National Park have caused questions concerning the HPS risk at Camp Wawona.
The outbreak of HPS and subsequent closure of some of the National Park Service facilities is due to a mice infestation. Park officials said that a design flaw allowed mice to get inside the walls of the insulated tent cabins. Curry Village and High Sierra Camps suffer from the same diagnosis: their facilities are infested with mice.
Camp Wawona has found no evidence to suggest an increase in the risk of contracting HPS than there was years ago.
In respect of the current situation, Camp Wawona has increased routine measures to ensure that its facilities remain free from pests.
- Sealing any spaces which may allow entrance of pests into facilities
- Checking facilities routinely for any signs of pests
- Airing facilities
- Use of appropriate disinfectants, as suggested on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website
Facts about HPS
- HPS is found around the world in places such as Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Panama, Paraguay, and Uruguay
- The earliest known confirmed case of HPS was a 38-year-old Utah man in 1959
- The "First Outbreak” occurred in May 1993, in the southwestern United States
Although HPS is not a new virus there is still much more research to be done.
HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. Since 1993, there have been approximately 60 cases in California and 602 cases nationally.
- Nationwide, approximately 12 percent of deer mice carry hantavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of HPS generally begin from one to five weeks after exposure.
- Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, chills, and muscle aches.
- About half of patients will experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and abdominal pain.
- The disease progresses rapidly (4-10 days after initial symptoms) to include coughing, shortness of breath and severe difficulty breathing.
Early medical attention greatly increases the chance of survival in cases of HPS.
It is recommended that if a recent visitor to Yosemite National Park has any of the symptoms listed above, that they seek medical attention immediately and advise their health care professional of the potential exposure to hantavirus.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit the CDC's hantavirus website at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/index.html.
A non-emergency phone line for questions and concerns related to hantavirus in Yosemite has been set up by the National Park Service. Visitors with questions can call (209) 372-0822. The phones will be staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
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