Tags: Yosemite | hantavirus | camp

Global Alarm Sounded on Yosemite Hantavirus

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 12:26 PM

U.S. health officials are sounding a global alarm on an expanding hantavirus outbreak that has infected campers who stayed in Yosemite National Park tent cabins this summer.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials have notified 39 countries, most of them in the European Union, that their residents may have been exposed to the deadly mouse-borne virus. About 10,000 people are believed to be at risk of contracting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) at Yosemite between June and August – about one-quarter of them are believed to be from outside the United States, officials said.
The lung disease has so far killed two men and sickened four other people, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a health alert and post the following details about hantavirus on the CDC’s Website:
HOW HANTAVIRUS IS SPREAD: People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents or their urine and droppings. Cases of HPS usually occur in rural areas where forests, fields, and farms where rodents live. The most common source is the deer mouse, common to the western and central US and Canada.
PETS DON’T SPREAD THE VIRUS: The hantaviruses that cause HPS in the United States are not known to be transmitted by any types of animals other than certain species of rodents. Dogs and cats are not known to carry hantavirus; however, they may bring infected rodents into contact with people if they catch such animals and carry them home.
PEOPLE CAN’T TRANSMIT HPS: The types of hantavirus that cause HPS in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. For example, you cannot get the virus from touching or kissing a person who has HPS or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease.
THOSE MOST AT RISK: Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk of HPS. Rodent infestation in and around the home remains the primary risk for hantavirus exposure. Even healthy individuals are at risk for HPS infection if exposed to the virus. Any activity that puts you in contact with rodent droppings, urine, saliva, or nesting materials can place you at risk for infection.
ACTIVITIES THAT CAN POSE DANGERS: Opening or cleaning cabins, sheds, and outbuildings, including barns, garages and storage facilities, that have been closed for long periods is a potential risk for hantavirus infections, especially in rural settings. Cleaning in and around your own home can put you at risk if rodents have made it their home too. Construction, utility and pest control workers can be exposed when they work in crawl spaces, under houses, or in vacant buildings that may have a rodent population. Campers and hikers can also be exposed when they use infested trail shelters or camp in other rodent habitats.
PREVALENCE OF CASES, DEATHS: Through 2011, a total of 587 cases of HPS have been reported in the United States, most since 1993. About one in three people infected with hantavirus died from it.
SYMPTOMS: HPS typically causes chills, fever, aches, cough, headache, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Yosemite hotline number is 209-372-0822. It's staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

© HealthDay

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Health officials are sounding a global alarm on a hantavirus outbreak that has infected Yosemite campers.
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 12:26 PM
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