It’s unfortunate that with all big news stories, there’s a lot of misinformation being spread about the hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite. Don’t let the fear of the hantavirus ruin your Labor Day weekend in Yosemite. With a little information you’re as safe in Yosemite as you are in your own home.
For instance, did you know the hantavirus isn’t just in Yosemite? Many states report cases each year including Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, which lead the nation in reported hantavirus cases. Check out this interesting map by the CDC:
Hantavirus isn’t just in tent cabins at Curry Village either. Since the early 1990’s campgrounds throughout the Sierra and Southwest have had signs warning of the virus. The virus is spread through mouse and rodent feces. That means it can be anywhere rodents go, and rodents GO everywhere (food lockers, between rocks, pine needles, under logs, inside your pack or tent).
Here are some tips from the National Park Service that can help you have a safe and healthy Labor Day:
- Be mindful where you place your gear and food. Always look for rodent activity (feces, burrows) first.
- Avoid coming into contact with rodents and rodent burrows or disturbing dens (such as pack rat nests).
- Do not use cabins or other enclosed shelters that are rodent infested until they have been appropriately cleaned and disinfected.
- Do not pitch tents or place sleeping bags in areas in proximity to rodent feces or burrows or near possible rodent shelters (e.g., garbage dumps or woodpiles).
- If possible, do not sleep on the floor or bare ground. Use a cot with the sleeping surface at least 12 inches above the ground or floor. Use tents with floors.
- Keep food in rodent-proof containers.
- Promptly discard all garbage and trash in covered trash containers.
- Use only bottled water or water that has been disinfected by filtration, boiling, chlorination, or iodination for drinking, cooking, washing dishes, and brushing teeth.
- Clean up spilled food and dispose of properly. Do not leave pet food in feeding dishes.
The NPS has brought in additional health and safety personel to clean-up and deal with the outbreak in the park but your best safeguard is the knowledge you carry in your head. Always use your common sense.
If you’re interested you can find out more information about the Hantavirus by visiting the CDC page at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/surveillance/state-of-exposure.html.