World Bulletin / News Desk
U.S. health officials have sent warnings to 39 other countries that their citizens who stayed in Yosemite National Park tent cabins this summer may have been exposed to a deadly mouse-borne hantavirus, a park service epidemiologist said on Tuesday.
Of the 10,000 people thought to be at risk of contracting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome from their stays in Yosemite between June and August, some 2,500 live outside the United States, Dr. David Wong told Reuters in an interview.
Wong said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials notified 39 countries over the weekend, most of them in the European Union, that their residents may have been exposed to the deadly virus.
The lung disease has so far killed two men and sickened four other people, all U.S. citizens, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a health alert.
Officials are concerned that more Yosemite visitors could develop the lung disease in the next month or so. Most of the victims identified so far were believed to have been infected while staying in one of 91 "Signature" tent-style cabins in the park's popular Curry Village camping area.
There is no cure for the disease, but early detection through blood tests greatly increases survival rates.
"I want people to know about this so they take it seriously," Wong said. "We're doing our due diligence to share the information."
Last week, park officials shut down the insulated "Signature" tent cabins after finding deer mice, which carry the disease and can burrow through holes the size of pencil erasers, infesting the double walls.
Officials are continuing to investigate additional possible cases of the disease, which has killed 64 Californians and about 590 Americans since it was identified in 1993, Wong said.
Early symptoms include headache, fever, muscle aches, shortness of breath and coughing. The virus may incubate for up to six weeks after exposure and can lead to severe breathing difficulties and death.
Experts say hantavirus, which kills 36 percent of those it infects, has never been known to be transmitted between humans.
Four of those known to be infected at Yosemite this summer slept in the insulated tent cabins. One slept elsewhere in Curry Village, located in a valley beneath the iconic Half Dome rock formation, and the sixth case remains under investigation.
One man from northern California and another from Pennsylvania died, while three victims have recovered and a fourth remains hospitalized, the state Department of Public Health said.
Nearly 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, attracted to the park's dramatic scenery and hiking trails. Roughly 70 percent of those visitors congregate in Yosemite Valley, where Curry Village is located.
Hantavirus is carried in viral particles inhaled from rodent feces and urine. People also can be infected by eating contaminated food, touching contaminated surfaces or being bitten by infected rodents.
Hantavirus previously infected two Yosemite visitors, one in 2000 and another in 2010, but at higher elevations.
Almost half of new infections in 2015 recorded among adolescents, young people, National AIDS Control Council says
The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that Zika was likely to spread throughout Asia after being detected in 70 countries, including at least 19 in the Asia Pacific region.
The world's largest marine reserve aimed at protecting the pristine wilderness of Antarctica will be created after a deal was finally struck on Friday with Russia dropping its long-held opposition.
Beef and wine producer Uruguay is branching out into caviar
The Arabic word Shifa means healing and the Al-Shifa clinic is a place compassion for the sick and service to the needy, one of the most important teachings of Islam.
Worst water shortage in 50 years sees residents of Harare turning to unhygienic supplies
In the face of prejudice, Noelia Garcia is the first person with Down syndrome to work as a preschool teacher in Argentina — and one of the few in the world.
Outbreak linked to heavy rains which encourage mosquito breeding
UN report warns that without measures to halt and reverse climate change, food production could become impossible in large areas of the world
It called for a "broad-based transformation of food and agricultural systems" to adapt to a warmer world, with an emphasis on supporting small shareholders.
A pre-COP22 ministerial meeting will be held in Morocco ahead of the conference to be held in Marrakech in November
Nearly 30-hour operation performed on 13-month-old boys
Among the world's wealthier regions, North America had the worst healthy life expectancy at birth for both men and women.
Diminishing coal in the energy mix must become a government policy in EU towards a low carbon economy: European think-tank
'Developing countries should be given access to nuclear power,' says International Atomic Energy Agency director
More people in the world are obese than underweight