World Bulletin/News Desk
Some 10,000 people who stayed in tent cabins at Yosemite National Park this summer may be at risk for the deadly rodent-borne hantavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.
The CDC urged lab testing of patients who exhibit symptoms consistent with the lung disease, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, after a stay at the California park between June and August and recommended that doctors notify state health departments when it is found.
Two men have died from hantavirus linked to the Yosemite outbreak and four others were sickened but survived, while the CDC said additional suspected cases were being investigated from "multiple health jurisdictions."
Most of the victims were believed to have been infected while staying in one of 91 "Signature" tent-style cabins in Yosemite's popular Curry Village camping area.
"An estimated 10,000 persons stayed in the 'Signature Tent Cabins' from June 10 through Aug. 24, 2012," the CDC said. "People who stayed in the tents between June 10 and Aug. 24 may be at risk of developing HPS in the next six weeks."
Yosemite officials earlier this week shut down all 91 of the insulated tent cabins after finding deer mice, which carry the disease and can burrow through holes the size of pencil erasers, nesting between the double walls.
Park authorities said on Friday that they had contacted approximately 3,000 parties of visitors who stayed in the tent cabins since mid-June, advising them to seek immediate medical attention if they have symptoms of hantavirus.
Nearly 4 million people visit Yosemite, one of the nation's most popular national parks, each year, attracted to the its dramatic scenery and hiking trails. Roughly 70 percent of those visitors congregate in Yosemite Valley, where Curry Village is located.
The virus starts out causing flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, muscle ache, shortness of breath and cough, and can lead to severe breathing difficulties and death.
The incubation period for the virus is typically two to four weeks after exposure, the CDC said, with a range between a few days and six weeks. Just over a third of cases are fatal.
"Providers are reminded to consider the diagnosis of HPS in all persons presenting with clinically compatible illness and to ask about potential rodent exposure or if they had recently visited Yosemite National Park," the CDC said.
Although there is no cure for hantavirus, which has never been known to be transmitted between humans, treatment after early detection through blood tests can save lives.
"Early medical attention and diagnosis of hantavirus are critical," Yosemite superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement. "We urge anyone who may have been exposed to the infection to see their doctor at the first sign of symptoms and to advise them of the potential of hantavirus."
Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb said rangers have answered some 1,500 phone calls from park visitors and others concerned about the disease. But she said the outbreak had not triggered a wave of cancellations
"Right now it's normal numbers for Friday," she said. "There have been cancellations, but it would be grossly overstated to say they're cancelling en masse. There's quite a bit of people out there still. It's still summer and a holiday weekend. It's still the summer crowds."
A national park service officials has said that public health officials warned the park twice before about hantavirus after it struck visitors. But it was not until this week that the hiding place for the deer mice carrying the virus was found.
Hantavirus is carried in rodent feces, urine and saliva, which dries out and mixes with dust that can be inhaled by humans, especially in small, confined spaces with poor ventilation.
People can also be infected by eating contaminated food, touching contaminated surfaces or being bitten by infected rodents.
Dr Ender Karaca, a post-doctoral associate in the department of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, first encountered the disorder in 2006 and 2007 during his residency training as a clinical geneticist in Turkey.
A routine inspection at a slaughterhouse in Mato Grosso state found an animal that veterinarians suspect of having a neurological problems
Public concern has been heightened by the spread of rumours on social media that there were many undiagnosed cases, as well as accusations of government cover-ups and inadequate hygiene procedures
The long-awaited proposal would subject the $2 billion e-cigarette industry to federal regulation for the first time.
Scientists are especially interested in this iceberg not only because of its size but because it originated in an unexpected location
About 15 percent of world's children going without vaccinations, says WHO's Director of Immunization Dr. Okwo-Bele
The weeklong campaign will target seven of South Sudan's ten states.
The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in the kingdom to 272, of whom 81 have died.
In a survey conducted last year, most water analyzed was deemed to be "very poor" or "relatively poor" in standard and cannot be used for drinking purposes.
Poaching rhinos for their horns is a growing problem in South Africa and a lucrative business for organised criminal networks but it is unusual for thieves to target stock piles.
The 17 new cases, announced late on Monday on the Health Ministry website, bring the total number of Saudi infections to 261, of whom 81 have died
The amendments, now in their fourth draft, are expected to enshrine environmental protection as the overriding priority of the Chinese government
In 2008, the Zambian government banned smoking in public places, relying on state police to enforce the prohibition.
Saudi Arabia has reported 244 cases of MERS since the disease was identified in 2012, of which 79 have been fatal.
China is aiming to make energy production and consumption more ecological to fight smog, siad the Chinese Premier.
MERS has no vaccine or anti-viral treatment, but international and Saudi health authorities say the disease, which originated in camels, does not transmit easily between people and may simply die out