Two Californians have been diagnosed with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and one died from the virus.
The hantavirus is caused by exposure to droppings or urine from infected mice, especially the deer virus.
The California Department of Public Health believes both victims got the virus from infected mice while visiting Curry Village at Yosemite and are advising the public to protect against exposure at home, work and places of recreation.
The man who died was from the Bay Area and visited Curry Village in July. A woman who also visited Curry Village around the same time is recovering from the virus.
The CDPH says there are regular inspections for HPS in deer mice at Yosemite.
HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected wild mice, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air is the most common means of acquiring infection. The illness starts one to six weeks after exposure with fever, headache, and muscle ache, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.
Park Ranger Kari Cobb said, "The cabins are not closed down. We have gone through the cabins in the area and actually mouse-proofed them even more than they already are and they have been disinfected, they have been cleaned very thoroughly."
Yosemite rangers say visitors should not stay away from the park because the HPS virus can show up anywhere that there are mouse or rodent droppings.
When you are in wilderness areas or places that harbor mice, you can take the following steps to prevent HPS:
- Avoid areas, especially indoors, where wild rodents are likely to have been present.
- Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from rodents.
- Keep rodents out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where rodents could enter.
- If you can clean your sleeping or living area, open windows to air out the areas for at least two hours before entering. Take care not to stir up dust. Wear plastic gloves and spray areas contaminated with rodent droppings and urine with a 10% bleach solution or other household disinfectants and wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Place the waste in double plastic bags, each tightly sealed, and discard in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly afterward.
- Do not touch or handle live rodents and wear gloves when handling dead rodents. Spray dead rodents with a disinfectant and dispose of in the same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead rodents.
- If there are large numbers of rodents in a home or other buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit CDPH’s Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome
and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Hantavirus
Web site page.