Yosemite increases outreach after 3rd hantavirus death

Modesto BeeSeptember 7, 2012 

Federal and state health officials said Thursday the confirmed number of hantavirus cases linked to Yosemite National Park visitors has risen to eight, and West Virginia authorities said a victim there is the third person to die.

Seven of the cases have been traced to the "signature tent cabins" in Curry Village, one of Yosemite's most popular campgrounds.

Last week, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said up to 10,000 people were at risk after staying in the cabins between June 10 and Aug. 24.

State health officials said one person with the virus stayed in multiple High Sierra Camps in Yosemite, a different area of the park than Curry Village.

More infections could be reported. Alerts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent to public health agencies, doctors and hospitals have turned up other suspected cases that have not yet been confirmed. This week, the European CDC and the World Health Organization issued global alerts for travelers to any country to avoid exposure to rodents.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, declined to release details of the West Virginia victim at a news conference.

Gupta said the victim had visited the park since June but declined to be more specific, citing the family's wish to grieve in private.

The other deaths occurred in California and Pennsylvania. Those who were sickened also were from California, and the National Park Service said Wednesday that they were either improving or recovered.

For more information: Yosemite National Park set up a hotline for people to call with questions about hantavirus in the park, and officials report that it has received thousands of calls. The number is (209) 372-0822. It's staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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