Nationwide alert for hantavirus

Aug. 30, 2012 at 1:31 AM

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- California health officials Wednesday put out a nationwide alert for the hantavirus after two people who stayed at Yosemite National Park died from the virus.

Three cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have been confirmed, and a fourth is suspected, Southern California Public Radio reported.

The National Park Service put out an alert to doctors and hospitals across the country.

The California Department of Public Health said a man died in the San Francisco area in July and the other death occurred last weekend in Pennsylvania. Both had stayed in Curry Village, a popular place for visitors in Yosemite that offers cabins and tent cabins, as did others confirmed or suspected of having the disease.

"To see a cluster of what right now is three, possibly four cases that are all associated with one location -- not one family but different people in the area -- that's unusual," said Dr. David Wong, head of the National Park Service Department of Public Health epidemiology branch.

The virus is carried by deer mice, a species mostly found at high elevations. People are typically infected from breathing the dried feces of infected mice.

The disease was identified 20 years ago.

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