Click here for more articles
Flu like outbreak at Camp Kanakuk
7/17/2009 By: Melanie Brubaker Mazur, Times editor
An outbreak of a flu-like illness struck 68 campers and staff at Camp Kanakuk this week near Vallecito.
Out of 15 rapid Influenza A tests given to the ill campers, five tested positive, said Jane Looney, director of the San Juan Basin Health Department. Most of the campers were from the Front Range or out of state and were sent home on Tuesday, she added. By Monday or Tuesday of next week, she hopes the department will be able to confirm if the cases are H1N1, also known as swine flu. None of the cases required hospitalization, and Looney said some of the patients were better in two or three days, which isn’t normal for any variety of flu.
Symptoms included achiness, and began with low-grade fever that quickly progressed to a higher fever, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose and headaches. Several cases spiked with a high fever. The camp has two nurses, a physician and student nurse on site. There are 160 campers and estimated 50 staff members, according to a press release from the health department.
“This camp followed CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Guidance on Day and Residential Camps well, which supports their own camp policy. We commend them for being extremely open and cooperative,” said Patsy Ford, a registered nurse with the department. The CDC recommends recommends staying home (or away from others) when ill, good cough and hand hygiene etiquette, and environmental controls that encourage use of these hygiene practices.
The camp health office evaluated everyone with symptoms. Anyone with a fever of a 100.5 or above was isolated and sent home. In addition to implementing the isolation policy, they instructed campers from other states to be symptom-free for 24 hours before boarding any plane. They did a thorough cleaning of the camp area and implemented hygiene methods such as covering coughs, washing hands and avoiding close contact with the healthy campers.
There have been other outbreak reports of flu-like illnesses at summer camps across the country. These have included some that have documented H1N1 cases.
Camp Kanakuk ends its current summer session tomorrow and starts another camp session the same day. Staff are currently working to sanitize the camp and before the next session starts, according to Camp President Andy Braner. Fifty children and staff were sent home this week, he said in an e-mail yesterday. No new illnesses have been reported in the past 24 hours, he added.