ASHLAND, Ore. – As Labor Day weekend approaches, most of may be thinking about heading to the outdoors, but health officials are warning us of a disease that can be contracted by inhaling.
Recently, two people in California enjoying the outdoors at Yosemite National Park, died of a rodent-borne illness called the hantavirus. Park officials say the two unrelated victims stayed at a cabin at the park
Jackson County health officials say rodent droppings in a closed space is exactly how humans contract the potentially deadly disease.
“It usually resolves but there are incidents where it can go onto a much serious disease called the pulmonary syndrome where it can attack the lungs,” says Susan Bizeau, a Jackson County Health and Human Services official.
Health officials say most hantavirus cases occurred in rural areas, but they also say it could just as easily happen within city limits.
“It’s not a common illness, but as i said, it has to be aerosolized and breathed in,” explained Bizeau.
There’s been no reported incidents in Jackson County but the hantavirus has occurred in other parts of Oregon. Since 1993, there’s been 18 cases of the virus in the state.