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Hantavirus response followed policy
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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK  (AP) — Federal investigators probing the hantavirus outbreak blamed for three deaths at Yosemite National Park recommended on Monday that design changes to tent cabins and other privately run lodging first be reviewed by National Park Service officials.

The report released by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General found that park officials responded to last summer's outbreak appropriately and within department policy.

"When the outbreak was identified, NPS mobilized to contain and remediate the outbreak and to prevent further outbreaks," Mary Kendall, a deputy inspector general, wrote in a letter attached to the report.

Still, the report found that current policy did not require park officials to approve design changes made to the "Signature tent cabins" by concessionaire Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, which had added rafters and wall studs to the structures.

Investigators determined that deer mice, which can carry the illness, nested inside the double walls of the new tents in Yosemite's family-friendly Curry Village.

At least eight of the nine tourists who fell ill stayed in the tent cabins.

Because the changes to the cabins were considered routine maintenance, current park service policy did not require prior approval, the report found.

Lisa Cesaro, a Delaware North spokeswoman, did not return a call seeking comment.

The report also recommended that the park service begin cyclical pest monitoring and inspections of all public accommodations.

While there is a current pest monitoring program at Yosemite, Delaware North was responsible for Curry Village, which was not considered at high risk for hantavirus.

Prior to the outbreak, Delaware only responded to pests in the cabins when visitors or housekeeping staff complained, the report said.