Tent cabins at Curry Village, Yosemite National Park, California, DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite (AP)
McLean, VA (written by Michael Winter/USA Today) -- A third Yosemite National Park visitor has died from mouse-borne hantavirus, and Reuters reports that warnings were issued to an additional 12,000 people who camped in backcountry sites since June or have reservations to camp there.
Yosemite Ranger Kari Cobb tells On Deadline that 12,000 e-mails are "going out as we speak." She said they are being sent to people who have either stayed in the Tuolumne area of the park and the High Sierra Camps since June 1, when they opened, or who have the required wilderness permits to camp there through Sept. 17.
Cobb said park officials did not have a breakdown on the percentage of visitors who were from California, the United States or overseas. She also said the third person to die from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was from West Virginia. Park officials are not identifying the victims.
Additionally, Cobb said she could not confirm a Reuters report regarding two possible hantavirus cases in France, saying that information did not come from Yosemite officials.
A third Yosemite National Park visitor has died from mouse-borne hantavirus, which has also sickened five others, Reuters reports.
The five "are either improving or recovering," the National Park Service says in a news release.
Seven of the eight people became ill with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) after staying in one of the "Signature Tent Cabins" in the Curry Village campground between June 10 and late August. The other confirmed case occurred in a visitor who stayed in several High Sierra Camps, far from the valley floor, the California Department of Public Health reports.
The confirmed cases include six people from California, one from Pennsylvania and one from West Virginia. French health officials are also investigating two suspected hantavirus cases from possible exposure during visits to Yosemite.
Authorities have estimated that up to 10,000 visitors who stayed in the insulated tent cabins might have been exposed to the virus. The cabins have been closed.
The park service says the types of hantavirus that cause HPS in the United States "cannot be transmitted from one person to another."
Here's background on the illness and virus, which is described as rare but serious:
According to the CDC, symptoms of HPS generally begin from one to five weeks after exposure. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, chills, and muscle aches. About half of patients will experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and abdominal pain. The disease progresses rapidly (4-10 days after initial symptoms) to include coughing, shortness of breath and severe difficulty breathing. Early medical attention greatly increases the chance of survival in cases of HPS. It is recommended that if a recent visitor to Yosemite National Park has any of the symptoms listed above, that they seek medical attention immediately and advise their health care professional of the potential exposure to hantavirus.