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Flu outbreaks reported at 3 Northeast Georgia camps

Tests pending on whether illness is swine flu

POSTED: June 16, 2009 11:37 p.m.

Three summer camps in Northeast Georgia sent 18 children to the hospital for influenza-like symptoms, and officials still are testing the strains for swine flu.

Local hospitals tested campers from Camp Ramah Darom in Rabun County, Union for Reform Judaism Camp Coleman in White County and Camp Woodruff’s Boy Scouts camp in Union County. David Palmer, public information officer for District 2 Public Health, did not indicate how many children were from each camp.

Several children tested positive for influenza A.

"The hospitals don’t know which strain of influenza A it is yet. They’re waiting on a testing sample from one child to come back from the Georgia Public Health Lab," said Palmer, who indicated results should be known by the end of the week. The child spent time in a Rabun County hospital because of a high fever.

Forty more students with symptoms at the camps have been isolated from other camp members and people outside of the camp.

"The camps are providing medical care in infirmaries and separated the sick from the well campers in a separate cabin until they recover," he said.

Fred Levick, chief executive officer of Camp Ramah Darom, said students who are separated from others still are able to participate in camp activities.

"The symptoms usually resolve themselves in 48 hours, but we separate them from the rest of the community for seven days to minimize spread," he said. "About 95 percent of our participants are going about their business, and we’ve developed special programs for the separated participants so they can enjoy the camp."

Levick and camp staffers have daily communication with campers’ parents to update them and reduce panic.

"We were not unprepared for this, given what’s been going on in schools and concern with influenza in the public eye in recent months," he said. "We’re part of a network of seven overnight camps around the nation, and our national medical committee includes infectious disease experts. We take health concerns with the utmost seriousness, and we’re working collaboratively with the local hospital and health department in this."

Directors from the other camps could not be reached as of Tuesday evening.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue and clear up in seven to 10 days.

At a North Carolina camp, 10 Boy Scouts tested positive for swine flu last week, prompting officials to test this week’s campers. Camp Daniel Boone executive Connie Bowes said no new cases were reported this week. Last week’s campers moved out Friday and a new group of about 700 from across the country moved in Sunday into the camp near Asheville.

Bowes said 38 Scouts and staff reported flu-like symptoms last week and sick staffers were quarantined. Nineteen Scouts were sent home.

Camp medical staff will continue to follow the advice of the Haywood County Health Department and screen Scouts once daily and staff twice daily.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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