Neary 200 Yosemite National Park visitors, employees sick after likely outbreak of highly contagious norovirus

An investigation has been launched to probe the circumstances surrounding the illness and how has it spread.


                            Neary 200 Yosemite National Park visitors, employees sick after likely outbreak of  highly contagious norovirus
Yosemite National Park, California. (Getty Images)

Nearly 170 people who visited the Yosemite National Park this month are reportedly suffering from a gastrointestinal illness, including the visitors and employees of the park. At least two of the people have been confirmed to have contracted the highly contagious norovirus, and the "overwhelming majority" of the cases are consistent with the virus too, the park, in a statement, said.

Most of the incidents reportedly occurred in the first week of January, and there has been a noted decline in the number of new cases being reported in the past several days, according to the park statement. An investigation has been launched to probe the circumstances surrounding the illness and how has it spread. The park authorities are reportedly interviewing the affected people. Reports state that park officials have also enhanced sanitation protocols to prevent any further spread of the virus, according to CNN

Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected person. Touching a surface, touching objects contaminated with norovirus, or eating food or drinking contaminated liquids can spread the virus. The particular form of virus causes about 21 million illnesses every year, mostly in crowded environments like nursing homes and daycare centers.

Visitors look out at Yosemite National Park from Glacier Point on July 21, 2014 in Yosemite National Park, California. Yosemite is among California's biggest tourist destinations. (Getty Images)

Symptoms of the virus generally begin nearly 12 to 48 hours after exposure. The virus causes inflammation in the stomach and intestines, leading to stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Its symptoms also include a fever, headache and body aches.

Reports state that the park officials are now working to prevent additional illnesses. Park officials, in their announcement, also outlined protocols that can be taken by an individual to prevent norovirus transmission. Prevention measures include washing hands frequently with soap, avoiding sharing food and water with other people, especially if you or others are sick. "If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used," the park said, advising for people to stay hydrated if they experience any illness.  

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