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Cave in Grand Canyon Closed Due to Hantavirus

Cave in Grand Canyon Closed Due to Hantavirus
March 31
14:16 2016

With two cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) reported this year by Coconino County, the National Park Service has temporarily closed Cave of the Domes because of rodent activity and the potential for exposure to HPS.

Cave of the Domes, the only cave open to the public within Grand Canyon National Park(GCNP), will remain closed until further notice.

HPS is a rare but serious disease that humans can contract through contact with infected rodents or their urine, saliva, blood or droppings. Infection occurs when virus particles are breathed in. HPS is not spread from person to person and can be present in any area in northern Arizona.

Since 2006, there have been five confirmed cases of Hantavirus in Coconino County.

Precautions should be taken in wilderness areas or other places that harbor mice. To prevent HPS, public health officials recommend:

• When camping or recreating outside, do not sleep or spend time in close proximity to rodent nests, burrows, or in areas of heavy rodent activity.

• Do not make food or garbage easily available to rodents.

• If rodent droppings or nests are found in and around the home or other buildings, do not stir the area up by vacuuming or sweeping. Spray the area liberally with a disinfectant (such as 1 part bleach to 8 parts water) and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.

• After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and use disposable materials such as paper towels or rags to clean, and seal all materials in double plastic bags before disposal.

More information about HPS prevention and precaution is available at www.coconino.az.gov/health or www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps.

Cave of the Domes, located near Horseshoe Mesa at the end of the Grandview Trail, is the only cave open to the public in GCNP. Old mines located near Horseshoe Mesa and throughout the park are also closed. With the exception of Cave of the Domes, permits are required to enter caves in GCNP because of the sensitive nature of cultural and natural resources inside.

More information about Hantavirus can be found by contacting Coconino County Public Health Services District at (928) 679-8750 or Martin Stephens, NPS Office of Public Health at (928) 638-7355.

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