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Swine flu a worry for summer camps

  • Story Highlights
  • Some camp sessions canceled; kids with flu-like symptoms sent home
  • Some are prescreening youngsters before accepting them
  • Pediatric specialist says cases mild, hard to differentiate from colds
  • Urges parents to ask camp if it's screening campers or had any flu cases
From Shelby Lin Erdman
CNN
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Parents who send their children to summer camps have the added concern of swine flu this season.

Some camp sessions have been canceled. Kids with flu-like symptoms have been quarantined or sent home and some camps are prescreening youngsters before accepting them.

Lori Kenzie of Roswell, Georgia, has a 10-year-old daughter who attends Girl Scout camp every year.

"We went to a camp last summer and there was no part of the check-in procedure that included any kind of screenings for health purposes, whether they had a fever or even head lice," Kenzie said.

But this year was different.

"This time they checked all the children when we checked in for temperatures, and interviewed the family members to see if anyone had been sick in recent months. They really ramped up their screening process, which I found reassuring," Kenzie said.

Dr. Jeffrey Boscamp, chairman of Children's Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, said fears of swine flu, or type A (H1N1) influenza, have changed the operations of summer camp this year.

"Some of the specialty camps we do [are] for kids with different diseases; for instance, kids with muscular dystrophy," Boscamp said. "There are a number of camps and if those kids get flu, they are at very high risk of developing severe respiratory disease, so those camps have all been canceled."

But it's hard to tell whether a kid has a common cold or swine flu.

"We know that there's still a lot of swine flu activity. ... We know that it's out there. Obviously not every camper who gets fever has influenza. And there's some difficulty in sorting that out," Boscamp said.

Doctors and medical centers are fielding inquiries from camps and parents about what they should do.

"The message we've delivered is so far we've seen nothing to suggest this influenza is a virulent one. So far the cases have all been mild. So we're not recommending people undergo treatment unless they're at high risk for complications," the pediatric specialist said.

The World Health Organization declared the swine flu virus a global pandemic June 11. More than 70 countries have reported cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports more than 27,000 cases in the United States.

Boscamp recommends parents, before sending their children off, ask the camp whether it's screening children first and whether any campers have come down with the flu this summer. He also advises parents to pack some extra hand sanitizer in their kids' knapsacks.

All About Swine FluWorld Health OrganizationGirl Scouts of America

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