10,000 tourists who stayed in cabins at Yosemite National Park recently might have been exposed to the deadly mouse-borne Hanta Virus. So far , Hanta has made 6 of the tourists ill. Hanta Virus is caused by inhaling the dried feces of infected mice. It is also carried by prairie dogs.
The Park Service is frantically writing and emailing the people who stayed in those cabins this summer, telling them to check in with their doctors.
In the Associated Press, Tracie Cone quotes Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman as saying, "We’re reaching out and they are reaching out to us, and we are trying in every way shape and form to be transparent and forthright. We want to tell people this is what we know. The most important thing is the safety of park visitors and employees."
The illness begins with flu-like symptoms and can take six weeks to incubate before acute respiratory and organ failures begin. There’s no cure, and anyone with Hanta symptoms needs to be hospitalized. More than 36% percent of people who get Hanta die from it. In 2011, half of the 24 US cases ended in death.
Meanwhile, the number of cases of West Nile cases reported in the US through early September is the highest ever, and most of these have occurred in Texas, where the number of fatalities increased by a third in only one week. The mosquito-borne virus was first detected here in 1999.
Half of the this year’s cases come from Texas, where a major drought, followed by rainstorms, may have caused a huge mosquito hatch.
Almost 2,000 cases, including 87 deaths, have been reported to the CDC nationwide. This is a 25% increase in only one week and a 32% increase in deaths from the previous week.
CDC director Lyle Petersen thinks that pathogens are spreading faster because people are moving around the planet at record rates. He says, "The world is a smaller place right now."
That’s SCARY–maybe we should all stay home with a good book! We have a couple of suggestions: Whitley’s delightful new novel The Secret of Orenda, which is available only as a download, or a download of his extraordinary nonfiction sequel to Communion, Transformation. And subscribers have a coupon that gets them a wonderful hardcover novel for less than $5 as well as a beautiful tote bag to carry it in!