Yosemite shuts cabins at center of rodent probe

5:53 PM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Yosemite National Park officials have indefinitely closed 91 cabins at the center of a probe into the deaths of two people from a mouse-borne virus.

Officials say the double-walled design of the cabins made it easy for mice to nest between the walls.

Over the past three weeks, two people have died of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after staying in one of the so-called "Signature" cabins. Another person is confirmed ill and one more likely has the virus that kills 36 percent of the people it infects.

Oscar Oviedo of Orange County was one of the visitors moved because of the cabins being closed.

"We came home after a long hike, Monday night, and we got a notice on our door, had to move and be put in this area," said Oviedo.

All of the victims stayed in the only tent-style cabins in Curry Village that are insulated.

There's also a new report that contends state health officials warned Yosemite rangers to be more active in educating visitors about the dangers of hantavirus.   That communication apparently came in 2010 and 2007.  The report accused Yosemite of not following through with education efforts. 

Park spokeswoman Ranger Kari Cobb said rangers did their best.  "We've had pamphlets out for visitors.  We didn't push it on visitors, but brochures have always been available," said Cobb.

Yosemite has notified about 1,900 recent guests of the tent cabins of the hantavirus concerns.  The park has taken in more than a thousand calls from people asking questions about the disease.

Hantavirus is carried in the feces, urine and saliva of deer mice and other rodents.

News10 reporter Tim Daly contributed to this report.

The Associated Press and News10/KXTV

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