The California Department of Public Health has reported a cluster of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) infections involving four visitors toYosemiteNational Park. Three of the cases have been confirmed as HPS, two of whom have died and the fourth case awaits confirmation. All of these patients stayed in 'Signature Tent Cabins' atCurryVillagefrom mid-June through to the end of August. Anyone who stayed in the Park are advised to seek immediate medical attention if they exhibit any symptoms of the disease, notably respiratory difficulty.
Hantavirus infection is normally considered a low risk for travellers. It is contracted through contact 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.
A similar virus conveyed by rodents occurs in South America and a related virus inAsiahas been implicated as a cause of kidney disease.