In summer 2012, an outbreak of hantavirus infections occurred among overnight visitors to Yosemite National Park in California, USA. An investigation encompassing clinical, epidemiologic, laboratory, and environmental factors identified 10 cases among residents of 3 states. Eight case-patients experienced hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, of whom 5 required intensive care with ventilatory support and 3 died. Staying overnight in a signature tent cabin (9 case-patients) was significantly associated with becoming infected with hantavirus (p<0.001). Rodent nests and tunnels were observed in the foam insulation of the cabin walls. Rodent trapping in the implicated area resulted in high trap success rate (51%), and antibodies reactive to Sin Nombre virus were detected in 10 (14%) of 73 captured deer mice. All signature tent cabins were closed and subsequently dismantled. Continuous public awareness and rodent control and exclusion are key measures in minimizing the risk for hantavirus infection in areas inhabited by deer mice.
Keywords: Peromyscus spp.; Sin Nombre virus; hantavirus; hantavirus pulmonary syndrome; respiratory infections; viruses.