CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Health department officials said little about a Kanawha County resident who died of hantavirus, except that the victim had contracted the deadly disease while traveling to Yosemite National Park in California.
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department officials said lab results provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed that a local person had become the third victim of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the country in the past three weeks.
The disease cannot be spread from human to human, and there is no concern about a local outbreak, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, health department director.
"People do not need to freak out," Gupta said during a press conference Thursday.
Gupta would not confirm that the victim had traveled to Yosemite Park with others; however, he did say that it is typical for family members to travel to the park together.
But, the incubation period for any other individuals who also may have been exposed to the virus has already ended.
"We do not have any other cases of the disease at this time," he said.
Gupta stressed that the disease is very rare and there have only been 587 confirmed cases across the United States since 1993. However, the fatality rate is very high and 36 percent of the people who contract the disease die, he said.
"But people travel all over the country and this is something they need to be aware of," Gupta said.
The discovery of the virus has prompted officials at Yosemite National Park to close 91 tent cabins in Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, the Associated Press reported.
The double-walled construction of the cabin tents at Yosemite attracted mice that could easily nest between the walls.
Gupta would not release the age or gender of the victim, nor would he say exactly when the victim had traveled to Yosemite. However, Gupta did say the victim had traveled to Yosemite since June.
He also would not release the exact date the Kanawha County victim died.
"We had a discussion with the family and they asked us to respect their privacy and not release any information," Gupta said.