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Yosemite Expands Scope of Hantavirus Warning: More than 20,000 At Risk 76

Posted by timothy
from the wasn't-that-a-diet-soda? dept.
redletterdave writes "In response to a recent outbreak of a deadly pulmonary disease commonly carried by mice and other rodents, Yosemite National Park has doubled the scope of those likely infected by hantavirus. Given the rising number of confirmed cases (currently eight) and deaths (three), U.S. officials have effectively sounded a worldwide alert for more than 22,000 local and international visitors that may have been exposed to the deadly virus. Health officials initially believed as many as 10,000 people were at risk to contracting the hantavirus after staying in Yosemite's popular Curry Village lodging area between the months of June and August.; unfortunately, that 10,000 'at risk' estimate was low. Officials expanded the warning this week to an additional 12,000 visitors to Yosemite's High Sierra camps, now that the eighth case of hantavirus was confirmed in a man who stayed in those camp areas. Furthermore, more than 2,500 of those individuals currently live outside the United States."
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Yosemite Expands Scope of Hantavirus Warning: More than 20,000 At Risk

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't sniff the mouse poop!

    • I thought it had something to do with tentacle porn, but upon closer reading it didn't say hentai virus, it's hanta virus
    • All these viruses (virii??), like Hanta Virus, Ebola Virus, Nipah Virus, and so on ... are they new?

      If they are not new - that is, they already existed for a long time, it's just that they have been accurately been identified recently - then I'll imagine that hundreds of years ago, or even thousands of years ago human populations must had had "contacts" with them and were infected as well ...

      My question is: If humans did suffered past epidemics of those viruses, how come there wasn't any record on it?

      Or is

      • by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @11:25PM (#41284811)

        There were fewer people in any given area, and most people never traveled at all. Thus a given outbreak likely wouldn't spread and could only at most kill the people in a few small farming communities, i.e. a few hundred people at most.

        Obviously there are exceptions for outbreaks of various things in cities like London. There are records of those.
        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=london+disease+history [lmgtfy.com]

        For everywhere else, records don't really exist because people didn't keep many written records of their dead.

        For the specific viruses you list, some of them could be new. Viruses replicate hundreds or thousands of times a year, and thus their rate of mutation is hence faster than that of humans. If beneficial (to the viruses) mutations occur and propagate, then, evolution is also faster. Ebola, for example, either existed for a long time but wasn't able to infect humans with a written history due to the remote nature of the sub-Saharan Africa jungle, or it only evolved the ability to cross infect from other primates to humans in the last 50 years.
        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=ebola+history [lmgtfy.com]

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        All these viruses (virii??), like Hanta Virus, Ebola Virus, Nipah Virus, and so on ... are they new?

        If they are not new - that is, they already existed for a long time, it's just that they have been accurately been identified recently - then I'll imagine that hundreds of years ago, or even thousands of years ago human populations must had had "contacts" with them and were infected as well ...

        My question is: If humans did suffered past epidemics of those viruses, how come there wasn't any record on it?

        Or is it a case of human evolution - or recent changes to human environments (much more hygienic) - that resulted in a decline of human immunological response to many types of viruses?

        The Indians were aware of conditions that caused an irruption of mice, and they knew to burn clothes that a mouse walked on. The name comes from the Han Ten river in Korea.

      • Not smallpox or some other European disease, but rather hantavirus, that mutated to become person-to-person contagious.

        Per their theory, it was deadlier to the Aztecs than to the Europeans because Europeans had larger genetic variability than the native american populace.

        The documentary I saw on the topic made a pretty convincing case for it being something unknown to Europeans, because the missionaries who were there at the time didn't recognise it as smallpox. Their term for it translates to English as "

      • by Anonymous Coward

        My question is: If humans did suffered past epidemics of those viruses, how come there wasn't any record on it?

        For starters, until recently no one was around who could write to leave a record. And until very recently a few deaths in some remote village went unnoticed. During the first round of Hanta virus, it was discovered that many of the elderly people of the Navajo tribe had antibodies to it, indicating that they had been exposed to it at some time in their lives.

        Second, the tools to identify the cause of disease have only been around for the past couple of decades. Before that, someone dying of Hanta virus ju

  • The Stand... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @01:37PM (#41281087)
    This is the beginning...

    Fortunately, this isn't a virus easy to pass between humans. Unfortunately, it is one of the contagions in our biological weapon program.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Chair...

      This is the beginning...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cold fjord (826450)

      Unfortunately, it is one of the contagions in our biological weapon program.

      Just so everybody is clear. . .

      Biological Weapons [fas.org] - (United States)

      In anticipation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, President Nixon terminated the United States offensive biological weapons program by executive order. The United States adopted a policy to never use biological weapons, including toxins, under any circumstances whatsoever. National Security Decisions 35 and 44, issued during November 1969 (microorganisms) and February 1970 (toxins), mandated the cessation of offensive biological re

      • by Anonymous Coward

        President Nixon terminated the United States offensive biological weapons program by executive order.

        Note the word offensive.

        Official policies

        War on drugs: Defensive
        Iraq war #1: Defensive
        War on terror: Defensive
        Iraq war #2: Defensive
        Afghanistan: Defensive

        I live too close to one of the largest biodefence research companies for the US Military. It is frightening when someone moves in next door and they tell you their job is in infectious disease propagation improvement. Sure it is to find better ways to stop the spread and kill the next pandemic, but when you have a drawer full of hammers.....

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by cold fjord (826450)

          Official policies

          War on drugs: Defensive
          Iraq war #1: Defensive
          War on terror: Defensive
          Iraq war #2: Defensive
          Afghanistan: Defensive

          Offensive weapons can be used in a defensive war, just as defensive weapons can be used in a defensive war. The US destroyed its biological weapons nearly 40 years ago. If it isn't done yet, it is close to done destroying its chemical weapons.

          The "War on Drugs" is not an actual war, it is law enforcement action, so that is nonsense.
          Iraq War #1 was a result of Iraq invading and

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @01:46PM (#41281153) Journal

    Great. First the supervolcano under Yellowstone, now deadly virus from Yosemite.

    You nature lovers and conservationists feel good about yourselves for preserving it? Huh?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheLink (130905)
      The Chinese are good at preserving wildlife - they dry shark fins.
    • by guttentag (313541) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @02:15PM (#41281417) Journal

      Great. First the supervolcano under Yellowstone, now deadly virus from Yosemite.

      You nature lovers and conservationists feel good about yourselves for preserving it? Huh?

      Right, because if we'd built a WalMart over Yellowstone the weight of several million obese consumers would keep the supervolcano from erupting. In the U.S., more people will die in car accidents this week on the way to WalMart than the hantavirus will kill this year. Still feel good about preserving GM?

    • Great. First the supervolcano under Yellowstone, now deadly virus from Yosemite.

      You nature lovers and conservationists feel good about yourselves for preserving it? Huh?

      Do look at the Mamouth volcanic risk area. Yosemite is well within the reach of this hazard and it does bubble and gurgle a bit too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 09, 2012 @02:03PM (#41281311)

    CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/outbreaks/yosemite-national-park-2012.html
    National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hantafaq.htm
    WHO (via TFA): http://www.who.int/csr/don/2012_09_04/en/index.html

    Am I the only one who does not see the quoted number of 20,000 on either website?
    TFA, on the other hand, links to Fox News.

  • Time to go long on cats? *buy* *buy* *buy*

  • Why after all these years are people still using Krusty Brand Chew Goo Gum Like Substance?
  • I (with my family) hiked round the High Sierra camps last year, with a small group guided by one of the park rangers. He said he'd never met anyone else from outside the US on one of those trips. Kind of surprising that they mention such a high number of non-US visitors in the press release.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      I think most of the international visitors stayed in the Valley at the Curry camps.
      I was at one of the High Sierra Camps (Glen Aulin) in mid August as part of a 5 day backpack trip and haven't had any symptoms. (Also, didn't see any signs of mice.)
      The virus is rare but endemic to large areas of the Western US. I've often worried I might get it by working under my house (in the Northern Sierra) in the crawl space (where we do have mice).

  • Meanwhile (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Government of Madagascar shuts down shipyards due to safety concerns.

  • reduce development (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @05:17PM (#41282889) Homepage

    This seems like a typical situation that we see in the West arising from: (1) the legacy of heedless 19th-century attitudes toward the environment and (2) unrealistic expectations about human interaction with the environment.

    A hundred years ago, people did all kinds of things to cherished natural resources that they'd never do today. San Francisco dammed Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite's twin that was reputed to be even more beautiful than Yosemite. Until ca. 1950, people intentionally fed bears in Yosemite Valley for entertainment, and sent burning logs over Yosemite Falls at night for people down in the valley to watch. They put permanent steps and cables on the back of Half Dome, which is something that just isn't a normal thing to do on a peak in the Sierra. And they developed the hell out of Yosemite Valley, turning it from a natural cathedral into an asphalt parking lot with big-city-style smog problems in the summer high season. All of these things have had negative consequences. A bunch of people have died on Half Dome, so they've had to start rationing access. Bear-human interactions, which are very, very seldom an issue in the undeveloped backcountry, are a huge problem in specific places, especially Yosemite Valley. And now we have hantavirus, which doesn't seem to be a big problem either in the city or in the backcountry.

    People also have unrealistic expectations about how they can live alongside the environment. People build houses in beautiful forests, refuse to clear defensible space around their houses because they like the trees, and then yelp to the government to put out forest fires so their houses don't burn down. The result is that we build up tinder for decades, and then get huge, catastrophic fires that, unlike the many smaller fires that would naturally occur, have negative environmental effects. An example was the huge Station Fire in the San Gabriels a few years back. Various opportunistic species have taken over in the disturbed habitat. One of the worst of these is purple poodle bush, which is sort of like poison oak except ten times worse -- it gets microscopic needles under your skin like little syringes injecting you with the irritating chemical. The stuff is ordinarily pretty rare (thank God), but in the burned areas it's taking over like crazy.

    It's not realistic to imagine that you can have a natural environment in Yosemite Valley with the population density they're trying to support. Why is it a surprise if they get disease-carrying rodents? If it was undeveloped backcountry, you wouldn't have a big enough supply of garbage to feed such a high density of mice. If it was a city, you could exterminate the mice. You can't do any of that in an environment that's basically a high-density suburb that you're pretending is a wilderness.

    The guvmint-based solution is to scale back the density of development in Yosemite Valley radically, and also to stop allowing people to drive private cars into the valley.

    As an individual, there are a couple of positive things you can do: (1) Instead of driving your car into Yosemite Valley, take the YARTS bus from a nearby town like Mariposa. (2) If you live in the Bay Area, please show a little originality by not doing the same stuff that everybody else does. The two things that people want to do are (a) climbing Half Dome as a day hike and (b) overnight backpacking in Little Yosemite. These areas are heavily overimpacted. Try something else. The Sierra is a big place.

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