Nearly 2000 Yosemite Campers Exposed to Deadly Virus
August 28th, 2012
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1700 people who camped in Yosemite National Park at Curry Village campground have been warned that they may have been exposed to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a deadly virus carried by rodents. Â The virus can be hard to track because symptoms can be delayed for up to 6 weeks after exposure.
Yosemite Park officials released a statement of warning.Â ”We are encouraging anyone who stayed in Curry Village since June to be aware of the symptoms of hantavirus and seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.”
Two campers have already died from the disease, and two more have been diagnosed with it.Â The disease is carried in the saliva, urine and feces of infected rodents. USA TodayÂ reports,Â ”After word of the first death came earlier this month, employees of park concessionaire Delaware North Co. disinfected the 408 canvas-sided and wood-sided cabins in Curry Village. The 91 signature cabins where all four victims stayed were being shored up in an attempt to make them more rodent-proof.”
“This is a serious public health issue and we want to be transparent, but at the same time we don’t want people to alter their plans because we are taking the necessary precautions,” park spokesman Scott Gediman told AP. Rangers are distributing informational brochures to patrons entering the park.
Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, muscle pain (particularly in shoulders and thighs). Â This will be followed by chills, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Â The disease progresses to cardio-pulmonary symptoms: shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs, decreased heart rate and acute respiratory distress. Â Death occurs in 30% of the cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
As the disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not have an effect on the outcome. Â Prevention of the disease is key. Â Lizzie Bennett, ofÂ Medically Speaking, outlines tips for prevention of the disease.
First and foremost reduce contact with rodents, take all measures possible to keep them out of your home, tool shed garage, holiday home, bugout retreat, woodpile and anywhere else you frequent.
Keep rubbish bins well sealed and excess rubbish as far away from dwellings as is possible.
Keep low lying vegetation to a minimum in these areas to discourage nesting
Build yourself a hanta kit containing, goggles, HEPA mask,(high efficiency particulate air), thick rubber gloves, a second pair of gloves, latex or washing up type, rubber boots and disposable overalls with a hood, an old shirt and trousers that you can afford to lose and 2 plant sprays.
DO NOT sweep, shake rugs or vacuum in areas you suspect may have nests or droppings. Open all windows and doors and leave the place to air for at least an hour. Make up several buckets containing a minimum 10% bleach solution, don your protective gear before going anywhere near the area. fill a plant spray from one of the buckets and spray the area you are cleaning from the top down.
Remove items from the shelves and wipe with a bleach cloth, set each item aside as you go.
Use a towel or cloth wet with the bleach water and wipe the shelf down, making sure you wipe the edges as well as the flat surfaces. Rinse your cloth often in the bleach water.
When you get to the floor, use a shovel to remove nests, soil, paper etc, all of which should be soaked in bleach water. Put into two thick rubbish bags. When solid matter is removed, carefully wash or mop the floor, disposing of the mop head and cloths into the waste bag as you finish with them.
Wash your gloved hands in bleach water, wash you boots in bleached water and lightly spray your overalls with bleached water from the plant spray, empty any liquid left in the spray and put the plant spray in the rubbish bag. Still wearing the goggles, mask and gloves, remove your boots and set aside. Take off the overalls and put into the bag,wash your gloved hands again in bleached water.
Using a fresh cloth, wet it in bleached water, wring out and wipe the front of the goggles and the mask, do this twice, rinsing the cloth in between.
Rinse your gloved hands in bleached water, shake to remove excess and remove goggles, dropping them into the bleach water bucket.
Take a deep breath and hold it, remove your mask before releasing your breath. Dispose of the mask into the bag. Tie bag up immediately.
Remove the top layer of your clothes and put them into a plastic bag, hold you breath whilst taking anything over your head, tie the bag immediately.
Washed your gloved hands one last time but this time let the bleach solution go over the cuff of the gloves saturating the insides.
Take the unused plant spray, filled with bleached water and spray the outside of both plastic waste bags. Pull on a second pair of gloves, place both waste bags into a large thick plastic sack and tie up. Wash your gloved hands in the bleached water, removing the gloves whilst they are submerged.
Go inside and wash, bath or shower, paying particular attention to your hair.
The waste bag should be buried deeply, or burned when the contents have dried out.
It is far, far easier to be vigilant with pest control, but if for example, you are going to a cabin that has been unused for some time, or are cleaning out the furthest corners of the garage, you would be well advised not to cut corners if you find evidence of rodents.
If you are using a building that has not been used for a while even if it has no evidence of infestation or nests it would still be advisable to wipe all surfaces with bleached water before using them for food preparation.
Park officials report that the park sees thousands of visitors each month. Â Those who were registered at the tent-cabins were contacted but it is not possible to reach all of the visitors that may have also been exposed. Â Guests of the park are warned to be aware of the symptoms and seek immediate medical care at the first sign of illness.
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Contributed by Kimberly Paxton of www.TheDailySheeple.com.
Kimberly Paxton, a staff writer for the Daily Sheeple, is based out of upstate New York.
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