Hantavirus, a rare but potentially fatal disease caused by exposure to urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents, has now claimed the lives of two visitors to a popular location within Yosemite National Park in California, The Huffington Post reported, and a total of four are suspected to have contracted the infection.
Only 587 cases of hantavirus infection have been documented in the United States since the virus’s discovery in 1993. There is no treatment for the infection, and about one-third of cases prove fatal.
Park officials say that exposure likely came from Curry Village, an area of rustic cabins where visitors can stay, and are warning people to be alert for any symptoms of hantavirus, including fever, aches, dizziness and chills, which can develop as long as 5 weeks after exposure. The park is also making an effort to contact all visitors who stayed in one of Curry Village’s 91 Signature Tent Cabins, which are more insulated than the other accommodations and where all four cases of suspected hantavirus patients stayed.
"They're doing everything they can to eliminate areas where mice can get into the cabins," Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman told the San Francisco Chronicle. "This was never because the cabins were dirty, it was never because we didn't take care of them. This is just because approximately 20 percent of all deer mice are infected with hantavirus. And they're here in Yosemite Valley."