Yosemite National Park visitors have been experiencing a scare recently, as more vacationers who stayed at the wilderness park are coming down with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Although it is a rare illness, the disease can be fatal. The park has thus far learned of four cases of the disease, two of which have led to death.
Officials are contacting those who stayed in the park's Curry Village this summer, advising them to be aware of hantavirus symptoms. The park has advised that every Yosemite visitor should keep an eye out for signs of infection.
The disease is carried by mice and can spread to humans that come into contact with an infected mouse's urine, droppings or saliva. It may take weeks for signs of the disease to develop after a victim has come into contact with an infected mouse. Early symptoms of hantavirus include fever, aches and pains, chills and dizziness. Once the illness has progressed, it results in coughing, shortness of breath and fluid filling the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Homeowners, especially those who live in rural areas, should be aware of any mouse activity near their homes to prevent coming into contact with the virus. Simple steps such as storing food in airtight containers and keeping homes clean and free of clutter and trash will give mice less of a reason to enter the home. However, as a precaution, any holes or gaps that could provide entry to the home should be closed off, no matter how small they appear. Mice need only a tiny space to enter a home, potentially bringing hantavirus with them.
Those who come across a room or structure infested with mice should take precautions to avoid picking up the disease. A building with a mouse problem should have the windows opened to air out the space, but caution should be taken so an individual does not disturb any dust. Areas covered in mouse droppings or urine should be sprayed with a disinfectant and left to sit for several minutes before cleaning. The waste should be tightly sealed and thrown out immediately.
The same process applies to those who find a dead mouse in their home. The rodents should be sprayed, bagged and tossed. If live pests are discovered, they should not be touched. A mouse infestation should be handled by pest control professionals who can ensure the rodents will no longer pose a threat to the household.