Much of the recent news from Yosemite National Park hasn't focused on the area's spectacular scenery, but rather on an outbreak of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Thus far, eight people who spent at least one night in the park this summer have been stricken, and three have died. Has this situation caused you to reconsider plans to visit Yosemite?
The confirmed cases include six individuals from California, one from Pennsylvania, and one from West Virginia.
Seven of the eight cases of HPS have been linked to overnight stays since June 10 in the "Signature Tent Cabins" in Curry Village in Yosemite Valley. Those cabins have been closed.
The other individual who became ill stayed in multiple High Sierra Camps in Yosemite in July. Those camps are located in a different area of the park than Curry Village, and that stay is considered the most likely source of that person's infection.
HPS is caused by a virus carried by rodents; when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air, where they may be inhaled by humans. There's no evidence the illness is transmitted from one human to another. The disease is considered "rare but serious," and the symptoms appear one to six weeks after exposure
Since HPS was first identified in 1993 in the Southwestern U.S., there have been approximately 602 cases nationally; 60 cases involved California residents. Deer mice (along with cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast) carry the virus. Nationwide, approximately 12 percent of deer mice are believed to carry hantavirus, and one of more of the carrier species are found in all parts of the country.
Has the recent outbreak of HPS caused you to reconsider plans to visit Yosemite—or other parks—in either the immediate future or in the long term?
Since all of the recent cases involved overnight stays in either the Curry Camp tent cabins or the High Sierra Camps, would you be less likely to either camp or use "rustic" vs. more modern accommodations during a park visit?