Sat, Sep 08, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Yosemite extends hantavirus warning as death toll rises


Yosemite National Park broadened the scope of its health alert on the deadly mouse-borne hantavirus on Thursday as the death toll rose to three, warning roughly 12,000 additional visitors to a more remote area of the park about exposure risks.

US officials had sounded a worldwide alert earlier this week, saying that up to 10,000 people were thought to be at risk of contracting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after staying at the popular Curry Village camping area between June and last month.

Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said the park was now expanding the warning to include another 12,000 people who stayed, or were still registered to stay, in the more remote High Sierra Camps, an area where visitors had not previously been considered to be at risk.

Yosemite announced the expanded warning as it confirmed that a third park visitor had died of the disease and that the number of US visitors to the park in California sickened by the virus had risen to eight.

Gediman identified the third fatality as a West Virginia resident who contracted hantavirus while staying in Curry Village tent cabins in June. That victim, whose gender was being kept confidential at the request of family, died at the end of July, and laboratory tests on Thursday confirmed the death was due to hantavirus, he said.

French health officials are also investigating two suspected hantavirus cases of people who may have been exposed in Yosemite.

The WHO issued a global alert this week over the cases of hantavirus linked to Yosemite.

There is no cure for the disease, which kills over a third of those infected.

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