TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF
There are some simple steps that you can take to help protect yourself and to prevent the spread of illnesses like influenza:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- If you get influenza, the CDC recommends staying home to help prevent the spread of illness to others. Persons with more severe symptoms, or who seem to be getting worse instead of better, should contact their healthcare provider.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
The H1N1 flu virus has been confirmed in three campers at Camp Ramah Darom in Rabun County, and some of the youngsters already are returning to normal activities.
"Campers who are no longer symptomatic are separated but participating in a full daily program of typical camp activities, like sports, arts and crafts, dancing, a campfire and even hiking," said Andrea Proser, director of the camp. "We have at this point 60 campers and staff who have experienced symptoms. Half are being treated, and half are recovering."
Although the three samples taken from the 60 people with flu-like symptoms tested positive, public health officials don’t plan further testing.
"We knew that a positive test would be a possibility, so we used the same procedures recommended by health officials for any flu strain," Proser said. "Treatment and procedures will remain the same."
One child was briefly hospitalized and discharged. About 10 percent of the camp population has been affected.
"We’re working closely with health authorities to monitor and care for those children and staff with symptoms and protect our general community, following all measures to limit the spread of the virus," camp CEO Fred Levick said in a news release. "We were aware of this possibility, and it does not change anything concerning our care for the children, our protocols, the severity of the illness, or the separation period of seven days."
The camp is equipped with an infirmary and residential medical staff onsite. Additional medical support has been brought in to help, Proser said.
Earlier this week, three summer camps in Northeast Georgia, including the one in Rabun County, sent 18 children to the hospital for influenza-like symptoms, and officials began testing the strains for the H1N1 virus, also referred to as "swine flu."
Public health officials are waiting on results from a virus sample from Union for Reform Judaism Camp Coleman in White County or Camp Woodruff’s Boy Scouts camp in Union County.
The results were not unexpected "as the H1N1 virus has been spreading in the United States and many other countries since April," said David Palmer, public relations coordinator for Gainesville-based District 2 Public Health in a news release Thursday morning.
"So far, the H1N1 flu virus has been very similar to seasonal flu with mild to moderate symptoms and most infected persons have been recovering in a few days," Palmer wrote in the release.
At a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention briefing about the H1N1 virus on Thursday in Atlanta, doctors talked about the flu in relation to summer camps.
"At this point we are recommending the same thing in camps that we have recommended in schools, and that is that if you have influenza-like illness that is suggestive or is likely to be the novel H1N1, that those individuals be removed for seven days, or for 24 hours after the last symptom, if that’s longer," said Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of the CDC’s influenza division.
"A weeklong camp will create issues for that child where it would probably be best for that child to go home. Our expectations are that we want to try and stop transmission as much as possible but also we want kids to get the appropriate care and sometimes that means that they need to come home."