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HEALTH WARNING: Have You Been To Yosemite?

Hantavirus has killed two Yosemite visitors and four more are now reported ill. The virus was found just east of Temecula earlier this year as well.

The Associated Press is reporting that past visitors to Yosemite National Park may have been exposed to a rodent-borne disease that has claimed human lives.

Four people who spent time in Signature Tent Cabins at Curry Village between June 10-20 have contracted Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, an illness spread by rodent feces, urine and saliva. Two other people who stayed in the cabins at about the same time have died, according to the news agency.

“One of the people who died was from outside California. The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the death within the past few days. Two other people were infected and expected to survive,” The Associated Press reported.

The other victim was a 37-year-old man from San Francisco, The Associated Press reported.

About 1,700 past visitors were contacted Tuesday by Yosemite officials, The Associated Press reported. The park is warning the disease can take up to six weeks to incubate in humans.

to take precautions against the deadly virus that’s spread by common deer mice.

Two deer mice collected in December 2011 near the Sage area, just east of Temecula, tested positive for Hantavirus.

Between 2001 and 2010, approximately 13 percent of the deer mice collected in Riverside County tested positive for Hantavirus, which is fairly consistent with the average for California, according to Riverside County health officials.

In Yosemite, park officials are taking action.

"This is certainly an issue and we're getting word out," park spokesman Scott Gediman told The Associated Press. "We're very concerned about visitors and employees, but we feel we are taking proactive steps in both cleaning the affected areas and in public education.

"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," Gediman continued.

According to Riveside County health officials, Hantavirus may be transmitted by inhalation of tiny droplets contaminated with the virus from deer mouse secretions such as droppings and urine.  Infectious deer mice do not appear to show any signs of illness so it is important to keep from stirring-up materials while cleaning up any mouse infested areas around homes, especially in rural areas.  Residents can take the following steps to reduce their exposure to Hantavirus:

• Ventilate the affected area the night before cleanup by opening doors and windows.

• Use rubber gloves.

• Apply household disinfectants at maximum recommended concentrations for rodents, rodent droppings, nests, contaminated traps and surrounding area and allow at least 15 minutes contact time before removal.

• Clean the affected area with a sponge or mop. DO NOT SWEEP OR VACUUM.

• Double-bag the disinfectant-soaked rodent and clean-up materials (newspaper, paper towels, etc.) securely in plastic bags and seal.

• Before removing gloves, wash gloved hands in disinfectant, and then in soap and water. Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after removing gloves. Dispose of gloves and clean-up materials with other household waste.

The early warning signs of human infection may include fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting and abdominal pain. These symptoms may last a few hours to several days.  As the illness progresses, the lungs fill with fluid, making breathing difficult. Respiratory failure can follow rapidly, according to county health officials.

Individuals having concerns about illness should contact their health provider.  

For more information on Hantavirus and the Vector Control Program, contact the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health in Hemet at (951) 766-9454 or www.rivcoeh.org.

Brenda August 29, 2012 at 07:01 AM
It was Christmas Night, we had dinner. I felt ok. About 10:30pm I immediately started to feel like I was coming down with something FAST. It usually takes a day for the aching and stuff to build, this was differnt. Barely got myself upstairs and onto my bed, told my husband that I did not feel very well at all, something was wrong within the last 1/2 hour and I thought I had a fever. He took my temp. 102, and gave me two tylenol. I told him if I was sick in the morning or didnt respond or something to get me to emergency, something was just not right.(I had that extra flu shot a week before that year, the one they didnt make enough of?, cant remember the name of it, and had heard some people were getting sick). I believe he woke me up at around 630am as I was burning up, not sure if I remember this or it was what he told me three weeks later. They got me to emergency, and I remember NO cough, just feeling like I couldnt breath, and then that is it, nothing till they began to wake me up out of the coma around Jan. 18th. I woke up with NO after cough or no feelings of congestion in my lungs. Xrays showed a hint of remainder in my left lung, then that faded. Not one time do I recall coughing, even in my dreams I had for the 3 weeks. So in a span of 8 hours I went from perfectly fine to nearly dead. At the hospital they immediately got me intubated and started on blood and giving medications for every type of pneumonia as I said.
Brenda August 29, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Sierra this did not feel anything like a flu at the moment I got ill or when they started waking me up slowly 3 weeks later. I was so weak, and suffered memory problems and motor functions from several long periods of time without oxogen. No one I have read about who contracted HV ever had a cough, it happens so fast I dont know if it just bypasses a cough. You do NOT go thru the usual stages of catching the flu or a cold. I am in Temecula by the Mall, we have a huge empty overgrown field behind our homes, but that doesnt matter. There are mice everywhere, as I believe that is what caused both the deaths of Brittany Murphy and her husbands. The immediate illness and immediate death within hours and per the mother in one of her first interviews she spoke of them having poisons out for mice they had in the house. As soon as they said that it made sense that is what they died of, and she had alot of shrubbery and how fast they both died of the same thing. It says Eastern Temecula....so that is not Hemet right? Deer mice were what had living in the 3rd floor attic in a rental, and we didnt know it. All the insulation was torn up and it was horrible, full of feces, urine, also the air ducts throughout the home. We immediately moved, the City was Notified, the 3rd floor, attic were cleaned out by exterminators in full protective gear. You never know when they sneak back in thru a very small space. Closing the spaces will stop them from getting in absolutely.
jill smith August 29, 2012 at 09:14 AM
Brenda thank god your better , and that you had a strong immune response. Sounds scary like ebola, it also causes pulmonary bleediing/pulmonary edema What is scary is how fast it causes multiple systems to fail, within 8 hours you were intubated. Is the vaccine your talking about the swine flu vaccine? Thanks for sharing your story, It really wakes people up.
Adrian August 31, 2012 at 06:50 AM
I remember hearing about this virus sweeping across the Navajo Nation a number of years back. I hope this is isolated and not "round 2".
Brenda August 31, 2012 at 07:24 AM
Me too Adrian, and you are correct. It could turn into the same epidemic. Mice come into houses more when its raining, and hot and raining. One thing about most areas of Temecula, Menifee they are all under 10 years old, & we have the older ranches. So what did we do when we started building so fast? We started moving mice around but they are still here. I remember years ago my family owned a security company and some of the stations were on construction sites for new homes and lord the MICE and baby mice nests all over. You think, well I killed two yiddle bitty mice in my house this past summer, we did good, when in reality those two had 200 babies in your garage and are now running from house to house. I am sure everyone has seen them walk on top of their fences and powerlines saying oh those cute little critters. I don't say that anymore. Keep little traps with peanut butter behind the washer and dryer, under the refridgerator, a few in the garage, and near the water hearter or ac'heating units. You can usually keep traps there without getting your dogs or littlier children. Also plug all and any holes where electric, hoses or piping goes into your house or garage. Do not forget a piece of screen over the dryer vent, and check all these frequently as they do work their ways right back through. Also in any attics or crawl spaces in the ceiling. Remember you get it from, its the feces, urine, dander it circulates through the vents in your home etc.

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