Norovirus spreads through Yellowstone and Grand Teton workers, visitors

A highly contagious virus has sickened and estimated 200 people in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

A highly contagious virus has sickened and estimated 200 people in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

From Staff Reports

A highly contagious, flu-like virus that causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea has sickened an estimated 200 people in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, prompting park officials to take extra precautions in stemming its spread.

Park officials suspect a tour group that arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs on June 7 may be responsible for introducing a norovirus among park employees and concessions workers, according to a statement released Wednesday by the National Park Service.

Norovirus is commonly associated with enclosed, crowded spaces like cruise ships, but it can spread easily, and is sometimes found in restaurants, hotels and other public spaces.

Tests conducted on some of the sick visitors and employees at Yellowstone came back positive for norovirus, the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S.

Though initially confined to the Mammoth Hot Springs area, the virus has apparently spread across Yellowstone and into Grand Teton and parts of Montana.

Over the past week, additional cases of similar illnesses among visitors and employees have been reported at both national parks. Those reports so far include over 100 suspected cases of norovirus among employees in Yellowstone and about 50 suspected cases among employees in Grand Teton. Fifty visitors also went to medical clinics within Yellowstone with symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.

Park officials say the Park Service and all businesses serving park visitors have instituted a variety of precautions intended to limit the spread of the virus. They include increased cleaning and disinfection of all public areas including stores, gift shops, restaurants and lodging facilities. Potentially infected employees are being isolated until they have been symptom-free for at least 72 hours.

The Park Service also is urging visitors to to be vigilant about hand-washing while on vacation, due to greater-than-normal reports of gastrointestinal illness in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, as well as portions of Montana near Yellowstone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 21 million people in the United States contract norovirus every year.

Norovirus is usually not life-threatening or cause for hospitalization. Most people recover within 48 hours. The virus can be contracted by direct contact with an infected individual, by touching surfaces contaminated with norovirus or by consuming contaminated food or drink. Contact with infected bodily fluids typically poses an especially strong risk of infection.

Thorough and frequent hand-washing with soap is advised, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]

4 thoughts on “Norovirus spreads through Yellowstone and Grand Teton workers, visitors

  1. Come to Yellowstone to watch the geysers erupt. Stay and watch the people erupt…

  2. They say 150-200 people but that is only the number reported. We were there last week(6/10-6/14/2013) and 4 out of the 8 of us can down with the illness. We were not in the Mammoth area until the 12th and they all were sick on the 13th! We didn’t even go into Mammoth. Checked in at the stables for rides and walked around at the springs. Not much contact with what usually spreads the disease but still became pretty sick. Definitely hampered the rest of our trip. Hope they get it controlled soon. That area is too beautiful to miss because of illness!

  3. I didn’t receive any info on the norovirus when I passed thru YNP twice last week. Let’s keep it out of Cody.

  4. Yes, we heard about this AFTER we exited the park. No one said a word to us at the gate or elsewhere.

    The next day I entered the park from the west because we were driving south to Jackson. I asked the ranger why we were not warned about this. She replied snippily…sir, you should have read the press release. Right.

    I said I walked all through the park yesterday, with my hand on every guard rail, eating finger foods. It would have been nice if someone had made me aware. At that point the ranger became pissy with me. It figures. Can’t trust anything about our gov’t these days.

    A similar incident at the hotel we stayed at in West Yellowstone. They had 30 guests get sick at their hotel, and not a word until we asked the next morning when we were leaving. Then they poo-pooed it, just like the park. Thanks.