Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mouse-Borne Virus Creating Havoc for Yosemite Visitors; SCIENCE / MEDICINE

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mouse-Borne Virus Creating Havoc for Yosemite Visitors; SCIENCE / MEDICINE

Article excerpt

FRESNO, CALIF. - Yosemite National Park officials have indefinitely closed 91 cabins at the center of an investigation into the deaths of two people from a mouse-borne virus.

Officials say the double-walled design of the cabins made it easy for mice to nest between the walls.

Over the last three weeks, two people have died of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after staying in one of the so-called "Signature" cabins. Another person was confirmed ill and one more probably has the virus, which kills 36 percent of the people it infects.

The National Park Service was warned in 2010 that efforts should be stepped up to inspect for rodents in Yosemite and prevent them from entering areas where people sleep, a report obtained Thursday states.

The disclosure came just days after a Pennsylvania visitor became the second park guest confirmed to have died of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Public health officials were able to confirm both victims had stayed at the park's Curry Village in Yosemite Valley.

The 2010 report issued by the California Department of Public Health was commissioned by the park service.

"Inspections for rodent infestations and appropriate exclusion efforts, particularly for buildings where people sleep, should be enhanced," it said.

"We worked with Yosemite to evaluate risk and make recommendations to reduce the possibility of transmission to people," added said Vicki Kramer, chief of the vector borne disease section of the health department. "That included reducing the number of mice, and excluding them from structures." Further details were not immediately available. The health department said it was preparing a statement.

The report was commissioned after two park visitors fell ill after staying in Tuolumne Meadows, about 4,000 feet higher than Yosemite Valley. It said that 18 percent of mice trapped for testing at various locations around the park were positive for hantavirus.

"The identification of the second case . …

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