Employee at Bodie State Park contracts the disease and survives–narrowly
Bodie State Park employee Spencer Fry, 22, hadn’t been feeling well when his family came to visit him over the Fourth of July weekend. According to his family, Fry had a fever of more than 104 degrees and headaches when a park employee drove him to Mammoth Hospital on July 7, but Fry was later sent home.
According to the California Department of Public Health, there have only been 14 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) recorded over 40 years in Mono County, and 63 total in California since 1993.
But Spencer’s mother, Haven Fry, had been studying Bodie and the death of Bodie Park employee Richard Johnson who died of HPS in 2010. Her instincts told her Spencer had the deadly airborne virus and she urged her son to seek help, according to Spencer’s father, Curtis.
On July 8, Spencer’s fever was still high and the family put him in the vacation camper and rushed him to Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, close to their home in Citrus Heights. He later tested positive for HPS. According to the Center for Disease Control, the virus kills 36 percent of those who contract it. It is contracted when urine or fecal droppings from infected mice are stirred in the air, such as from sweeping, and then inhaled.
Curtis said Spencer started to vomit an hour outside Roseville then began to show signs of pulmonary edema and his lungs began filling with fluid an hour after he reached Kaiser.
“If we weren’t there,” Curtis said, “he’d be dead today.”
Curtis told The Sheet on July 25 that Spencer spent 13 days in the Intensive Care Unit. “He apparently beat it (hantavirus),” Curtis said, but Spencer has total hearing loss in his left ear, complications with liver function and has started to show emotional scars.
It might be the shock of nearly dying or the effects of 20 different medications, Curtis said, but the once athletic and outgoing Spenser has become introverted and has to use a walker to get around. He said his son has some survivor’s guilt and regrets about ever going to Bodie.
“He’s not the same boy,” Haven Fry said.