Yosemite is in crisis; not because Yogi Bear has come back to steal picnic baskets, but rather because of a potentially deadly virus. 9 vacationers have fallen ill with the hanta virus following their stay in Yosemite’s “signature” cabins in Curry Village. 3 of these tourists have later died.
The hanta virus is a potentially deadly virus carried in the saliva, urine, feces, and fur of infected field mice. Even if you don’t directly touch a field mouse or its droppings, you can become infected by airborne particles and dust.
Once infected, symptoms initially present as flu like symptoms. This includes:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle and body aches
OVER 3,000 WORKERS FREQUENT YOSEMITE YEARLY
Following the discovery of hanta virus at Yosemite, the national park has taken steps to protect its over 3,000 yearly workers. Beginning with park maintenance and facilities workers, the park is undergoing a massive testing of employees to detect infections without symptoms. These results have yet to be made public.
The frightening part for Yosemite park employees is the rotating cast of thousands of employees the park sees on a yearly basis. This includes park rangers, facilities and maintenance workers, and concession workers. They tend to rotate through national park facilities. Potentially, if infected, these individuals could also become carriers. The National Park Service would like to prevent this from happening.
TESTING PRESENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE VIRUS
The National Park Service is working with public health officials to protect their employees and their visitors. However, they also would like to use these results to better understand the virus so they can protect the public better.
Ultimately, public health officials would like to understand whether or not the virus will fail to exhibit symptoms in some people, whether humans will act like carriers, and why some people are at greater risk than others. They’re hoping this testing will provide the answers.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN EXPOSED TO THE HANTA VIRUS
The hanta virus has a 6 week incubation period. So if you feel the onset of the flu roughly 6 weeks after camping in the woods, you may want to ask your doctor for a hanta virus test just to be sure. Mention your camping trip to the doctor and describe your rustic conditions. Provide as many details as possible.
Instances of the hanta virus are rare, so don’t panic. If you do develop the virus, follow your doctor’s advice. You may also want to discuss your legal options with an attorney.