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Swine flu sends campers home early

Flu is not usually something summer camps have to worry about. Welcome to the Summer of '09.

An outbreak of swine flu led the directors of Sandy Hill Camp in Cecil County this week to send roughly 200 campers home about halfway through a two-week session. (Flu is seasonal and usually hits in the winter.) The new virus swept quickly through the overnight camp. During the first few days, six campers came down with flu-like symptoms (later confirmed as swine flu in two kids) and were sent home. On Saturday, six more campers got sick. All campers and staff on the two-week session had their temperatures taken the next morning and four had fevers. Nine more campers developed symptoms by Sunday night. With 10 percent of the kids sick and who knows how many others exposed, the session was called off and everyone went home Monday.

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Not to worry, reads a letter sent to parents planning on sending their children to later sessions at Sandy Hill this summer. No one was seriously ill, the directors wrote. And the rest of the sessions this summer will go on. In fact, a one-week session that began Sunday is underway and so far no campers have gotten sick.

Campers across the country have seen their summer plans dashed as swine flu has caused closures in other locations. The Muscular Dystrophy Association canceled all of its camps nationwide  -- including two sessions at Camp Maria in Leonardtown -- for fear that a swine flu outbreak could be dangerous to the sick children it serves.

On page two of the Sandy Hill letter, the camp directors try to look on the bright side: "Although not necessarily initially comforting, many experts believe that the influenza A virus will come back in additional waves in the fall/winter during the traditional flu season. It is believed that campers who work through the virus now will increase their immunity against future exposures."

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