Hantavirus Outbreak in Yosemite
Hantavirus, a deadly disease with a very high mortality rate, has recently broken out among visitors to Yosemite National Park. The virus, which is transmitted by rodents, has claimed two lives already. More deaths may be on the way as other visitors near the end of the virus’s hibernation period.Fortunately, the disease is still fairly rare. This is the first major outbreak in the U.S. since 1993, and so far seems to be confined to people who stayed in a specific area of Yosemite’s campgrounds. It was probably brought in by the local mouse population, which likes to take shelter in the camping areas and scavenge off of peoples’ trash and litter. Humans probably got the disease from contact with mice urine or feces.
The virus carries a 40% mortality rate—much higher than most other potentially deadly diseases. After incubating for a month or more, it first takes hold with flulike symptoms. It quickly escalates to extreme difficulty breathing and rapid fluid and blood loss.
Though uncommon, Hantavirus is widespread and can strike anywhere that rodents like rats and mice are common. The crafty and adaptive animals can make a living almost anywhere, so it’s especially important to keep them out of your home. There are several things you can do on your own to limit or eliminate rodent populations. The first is always to seal up your home tight so they have no way to get in. The second is to make your home as unappealing as possible so they have no reason to come in the first place. Rodents like dark, enclosed areas. Clean up all clutter and messy areas where they can hide. Remove easy sources of food; take out your trash regularly and keep your kitchen clean.
If you need to take a more active approach, mouse and rat traps can take care of one or two rodents. A house cat will patrol your home and scare off or kill anything it finds. Rat poison can also do the job, but take care to keep it away from pets and children.
The surest way to protect yourself and your family from Hantavirus, though, is to hire a pest exterminator. They have access to all the best equipment and strategies needed to ensure your home stays completely rodent-free.