Nine Confirmed Hantavirus Cases Linked to Yosemite

By: Ryan Jaslow, CBS News Email
By: Ryan Jaslow, CBS News Email

Another person who stayed at Yosemite National Park has been confirmed with having hantavirus, making it the ninth case linked to the current outbreak of the dangerous rodent-borne disease.
The National Park Service announced Thursday afternoon on its website that the nine individuals who stayed one night or more in Yosemite since June of this year. The announcement comes a day after park officials expanded their notifications of the outbreak to 230,000 guests of the park who had stayed overnight since June.

Eight of the confirmed cases developed hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Three people have died of the disease while the other six have recovered, officials said. Seven of those infected are from California, one from Pennsylvania and one from West Virginia.

Several of the infections have been tied to people staying tent cabins at the Curry Village Campground.

People can get infected with the virus by inhaling it from rodent urine, feces or saliva. It can cause flu-like symptoms and has a 38 percent mortality rate. Even healthy individuals are at risk for the pulmonary infection if exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Within four to 10 days of infection, people may experience coughing and shortness of breath that one HPS survivor described the feeling like a "tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face."

One survivor who fell ill after a July trip to Yosemite, Nicole Lapeyrade, recently criticized the park's lack of response, telling the CBS Evening News she was disappointed at the "seemingly lack of concern for the public welfare."

The park, which announced its warning in August, defended its response.

"In the last 100 years, we've literally only had two cases aside from this cluster of eight," Yosemite park ranger Kari Cobb had told the CBS Evening News earlier this week. "It wasn't something that Public Health thought was a major problem and it wasn't something that the park thought was a major problem."

The National Park Service has more on the current outbreak.

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