Yosemite Remains Open Despite Hantavirus Cases - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Yosemite Remains Open Despite Hantavirus Cases

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"I've never been so sick in my entire life."

Hantavirus victim Nicole Lapeyrade says, "My muscles hurt. I had a really bad sore throat, every time I got up, I wanted to pass out."

She thought she had the flu or pneumonia. Blood test results show she had the antibodies for hantavirus.

"If this is the hantavirus, I feel extremely lucky."

Lucky because since hantavirus was first identified in 1993, there have been 587 documented U.S. cases - about a third were fatal.

In California - 62 cases 21 of them deadly.

"This is the first time we've had a cluster of cases like this."

Dr. Vicki Kramer says the six confirmed cases out of Yosemite this summer ae rare. But while hantavirus is uncommon you still need to be careful. "If you do see rodent droppings or nests... Don't sweep those up, don't vacuum... wet down the droppings or nests with a bleach solution, wait a few minutes and then clean it up."

The virus is transmitted when people come in contact with infected rodent urine or droppings and by breathing infected particles. At Yosemite, all 91 of Curry Village's 'signature tent cabins' have been shut down indefinitely. Officials say the double-walled design of the cabins made it easy for mice to nest between the walls.

But while some have cancelled trips to Yosemite, others are not worried.

"You're kinda in the woods and in their territory and mice are going to be here," says visitor Carlette Smiley.

This isn't the first time for Yosemite. The park has been linked to two other cases: one in 2000 and one in 2010. The Park Service estimates the hantavirus exists in 20% of all the deer mice in the Sierra Nevada.

For more on hantavirus, go to http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/

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