Death Toll Climbs to Three in Yosemite Hantavirus Outbreak

An outbreak of hantavirus in Yosemite has claimed another life, bringing the total number of deaths to three.

Five more people have been diagnosed with the disease, the National Park Service said in a news release, and they are improving or recovering.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that French health officials are investigating two more possible cases among people who may have visited the park over the summer.

MORE: Hantavirus in Yosemite: Why It Surfaced, and How We Can Stop It

When the first hantavirus cases were confirmed they were quickly traced back to Yosemite campgrounds. Since then emails have gone out to thousands of campers here and abroad who may be at risk of developing the disease.

Reuters reported that warnings were sent to 39 countries whose citizens might also be in danger of developing the rare but serious disease.

Most of the documented cases, the NPS said, happened to people who stayed at the park’s Signature Tent Cabins in Curry Village, which has since been shut down.

MORE: West Nile Virus Cases Surge, Dallas Orders Spraying

It usually takes from one to five weeks for symptoms to appear after being exposed. Hantavirus is a zoonotic disease spread to humans by coming in contact with infected rodents’ feces, urine or saliva, but it can’t be transmitted from human to human.

Symptoms are flu-like and include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, nausea and abdominal pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no cure for hantavirus, although symptoms can be treated. The disease has a 38 percent fatality rate.

"We want to make sure that visitors have clear information about this rare virus and understand the importance of early medical care," Yosemite superintendent Don Neubacher said in the release. “We continue to work closely with state and national public health officials, and we urge visitors who may have been exposed to hantavirus to seek medical attention at the first sign of symptoms.”

Related Stories on TakePart:

• West Nile Virus and Other Diseases May Have An Unexpected Accomplice: Climate Change

• Germ Airways, You're Cleared For Takeoff: The U.S. Airports Most Likely to Spread Pandemics

• Monkeys Cured of Ebola With Antibody Cocktail

Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal, and has gotten in a boxing ring. Email Jeannine |