SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

August 29, 2012

Yosemite officials say 1,700 visitors at risk for disease

(Continued)

A 37-year-old man from the San Francisco Bay area was one of the victims who died. Details about the others have not been released because of medical privacy laws.

Thousands of people visit the park every month, so it would be impossible to track everyone who had set foot in Curry Village, officials said.

“There are rodents and some are infected and that’s what happens,” Gediman said. “This is a wilderness setting. It has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the cabins.”

Of the 587 documented U.S. cases since the virus was identified in 1993, about one-third proved fatal.

This year’s deaths mark the first such fatalities of park visitors, although two others were stricken in a more remote area in 2000 and 2010, officials said.

The century-old Curry Village is a collection of cabins that, at roughly $140 a night, are the most economical lodging in the park. At the other end of the lodging spectrum is the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, where rooms can be $500 a night.

Located at the base of 3,000-foot Glacier Point, Curry Village has been in the news in recent years for being located in a rockfall hazard zone. After boulders rained down on the village in 2008, the park permanently closed some of the cabins. These newer, insulated Signature Cabins were built in 2009 to replace them.

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