A third person has died after being exposed to a Hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park. Eight people have been infected with the deadly virus and the number of people who may have been exposed has doubled to 22,000 people.
More cases bring new worries and not just for tourists. A Bakersfield woman who spent the summer working at the park says she was never warned about the virus.
People come from all over the world to explore the natural beauty of Yosemite. But, the beautiful views now come with a warning.
The National Park Service has warned 22,000 visitors they may have been exposed to Hantavirus. So far, eight people have been infected. Three people have died.
"You don't think three people are going to die of a virus. That's crazy," said Elizabeth Monroig of Bakersfield.
Elizabeth Monroig spent three months working at Yosemite this summer. She said she is still furious about how she found out about the deadly outbreak.
"I heard from an employee who happens to have cable in her area. But, most of the employees don't have cable. We're in the dark," she said.
Monroig said she was kept in the dark by her employer, Delaware North Companies, which runs the concessions at Yosemite. But, the company said otherwise.
"A lot of our employees have e-mail so we were giving out e-mail information, but we also had all of our management do one-on-one meetings with their employees who don't have access to e-mails. And, then there were notices posted in their housing areas," said Lisa Cesaro, Delaware North Companies Spokesperson, Yosemite.
The virus is spread through infected rodent droppings. The droppings dry out and become dust. People breathe in the dust and become infected. The Hantavirus strain in Yosemite was spread through deer mice.
"If you've got any location that for whatever reason, mice have moved into that area, you want to clean that all up. It could involve a camping area, it could be your garage, it could be your storage shed. If you see those droppings, you want to moisten them first before you start cleaning them up," said Dr. Claudia Jonah, Kern County Department of Public Health.
House mice have never been known to give people the virus. But, since it's hard to tell if a mouse or rat carries the virus, it's best to avoid all wild mice and rats and safely clean up any droppings.
There were four cases of Hantavirus in Kern County between 1998 and 1999. There have been none since.
"It tends to be very sudden onset and people get very ill, very quickly," continued Jonah.
Symptoms of Hantavirus include fever, headaches, bloody rashes, and kidney-related issues. You can't catch Hantavirus from someone. Most people recover, but it can be more serious for those who already have health problems.