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Southern California woman who caught hantavirus sues Yosemite, speaks out

Sunday, May 05, 2013

A Southern California woman is suing after her attorney says she got the hantavirus at Yosemite National Park. She is now is speaking out about her harrowing ordeal.

"I couldn't walk at all, I couldn't move my arms or anything," said Cathy Carrillo.

Carrillo says nearly a year after becoming ill, she's still struggling with her speech, her lung capacity is reduced and her energy level is nothing like it was before.

"The doctors at the hospital said I was a miracle because they didn't know if I was going to pull through," she said.

Last June, Carrillo says she spent nearly three weeks in the hospital in critical care, then another 10 days in rehab learning to walk and talk again. This all followed a two-night stay at Yosemite National Park at the Curry Village tents. She says the illness didn't set in until days after she returned home.

"I started getting chills and fever, so I just assumed I had the flu," she said.

Instead, she had come down with the hantavirus. Her attorney Mark Algorria says it is one of the deadliest contagions in the world and is spread by rodents.

"The virus is in the waste and it becomes aerosol, and it's breathed in and that's what happens, it comes in through the lungs," he said. "Most people die of this illness, it's a very severe illness."

Park officials confirmed the virus started in the Curry Village area. Now Carrillo and her husband are suing the Delaware North Company, the management group in charge of maintaining the park's resorts, for negligence.

According to Algorri, the Delaware North Company knew about the virus as far back as 2008.

"They've known about it, they did not warn about it, and they did not maintain this premise, the park, in a safe condition," he said.

The Delaware North Company says it cannot comment on pending litigation, but in an email confirmed:

"All the Yosemite Valley cases of hantavirus were associated with a double-wall, insulated tent cabin design, which have all been removed."

Three Yosemite visitors died from hantavirus last year. The disease kills more than one-third of the patients stricken with it.

In 2011, half of the hantavirus patients in the U.S. died from the disease, but human cases of the virus remain extremely rare.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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