The locks bar entrance to the park’s 91 signature tent cabins, where park officials say they believe a deadly outbreak of hantavirus originated in June, sickening four people and killing two. The cabins are closed indefinitely as officials wait to see whether their efforts to close gaps between the cabin walls are enough to keep virus-carrying deer mice out.
Johnson, who stayed in another area of Curry Village, brought the masks just in case. She warned her son and his friend when they arrived Wednesday not to stir up any dust or dirt, which can include mouse droppings, the most common way the virus spreads to people.
In the end, they didn’t don the masks. But the Monterey, Calif., physical therapist said Friday that she was still concerned.
“I’ll be nervous for the next couple of weeks,” Johnson said.
Many recent visitors to Yosemite expressed the same concerns as the number of confirmed hantavirus cases rose to six last week. The California Department of Public Health said four cases, two of them fatal, have been traced to the cabins. Investigators hope to pinpoint the origin of the two additional confirmed cases among former park visitors.
Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said park officials and public health authorities discussed notifying other recent visitors who stayed elsewhere in Curry Village or beyond but concentrated their efforts on those they thought were most at risk.
“We hope it’s contained,” Gediman said. “But am I going to stand there and tell you it is? I mean, of course not. I can’t do that. That’s why we’re erring on the side of caution.”
Park officials said they have sent letters and e-mails to about 3,100 people who reserved one of the cabins between June 10 and Aug. 24. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued another nationwide alert Friday, saying an estimated 10,000 people stayed in the cabins during that time.
Some who camped in Curry Village both then and later last week said they were not told about the outbreak when they arrived.
Camille Chu, 39, said she and her husband were not warned about hantavirus when they checked into one of the now-shuttered cabins Aug. 24. She also said she didn’t receive an e-mail notification until Wednesday night, after she called the park.
“People need to know now,” Chu said. “You should always err on the side of caution, and that’s not what they did. I’m infuriated. I’m very upset.”
Norbert Kubilus, 63, and his wife spent four days in another section of the village beginning June 10. Although they are out of the park’s target group, Kubilus said he still would like to know more about what’s going on.
He said he had some flu-like symptoms a few weeks after returning from the park. They passed, but Kubilus said had he known hantavirus was a concern, he would have gone to his doctor “just to make sure it wasn’t that.”