Hantavirus, the rodent-borne virus linked to the death of one Yosemite National Park visitor this year and the serious illness of another, is relatively rare, public health officials say.
Since the virus was first identified in 1993, there have been 60 cases in California and 587 nationwide. The two recent cases, a Bay Area man who died late last month and an Inland Empire woman who is recovering, bring the total number of cases in California this year to four, officials said.
Most California cases have come through exposure to the virus carried by deer mice in the eastern Sierra region and at higher elevations.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, the illness caused by the virus, can take one to six weeks to develop after exposure. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea. The syndrome is fatal in about a third of all cases.
State Department of Public Health officials advised anyone with those symptoms to seek medical attention and let doctors know if they have been camping recently in Yosemite.
Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said the two adults, who have not been identified and were not traveling together, stayed at the park's popular Curry Village lodging area on overlapping days in June. The area is known for its historic tent cabins and is popular with families.
Yosemite National Park officials and cleaning contractors have stepped up efforts to disinfect the park's cabins and other lodgings, and are trapping and testing mice.
The park spokesman noted that although such problems were rare, it is not possible to rid a natural area such as Yosemite of all danger. "It's a wilderness area, and rodents live in the wilderness," he said.
-- Rebecca Trounson