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Stricter screening keeps out sick campers

Posted July 16, 2009

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— Now that four people in North Carolina have died from H1N1 complications and more than 400 other cases of the sickness were reported, officials at Camp Kanata in Wake County are not taking any chances with their campers.

The YMCA camp is screening children for the flu before they step foot on the camp site, which typically has 400 campers and 100 staff members. With as many as 14 campers sharing a single living space, germs can spread faster than the rumors of the latest summer crush.

“(Sickness) just spreads quickly if you don’t keep it under control,” said Camp Kanata Executive Director Dave Bell. “We’ve been doing probably a stricter job of screening our campers on the way in.”

Before campers enter, they have to be checked by a nurse, like Kim Estes, and get their temperature taken.

“We are screening people for the flu if they have any kind of symptoms or anything,” she said.

Anyone with a high fever goes home. Overnight campers get screened when they check in on the first day of the week. Day campers are screened every day.

“We had to send a few home, but, you know, not any more than a normal summer,” Bell said.

None of the campers sent home have tested positive for swine flu.

Once children make it inside, lessons in hygiene come with the playtime.

“We have hand sanitizer in the dining hall on the tables,” said camp counselor Allie Boulton.

Estes, who serves as a nurse and has a child who attends the camp, said the precautions make her feel better.

“It is a relief, because you want your kids to come to camp and have fun (and) be healthy. That’s what camp’s about,” she said.

North Carolina’s two most recent deaths as a result of H1N1 happened in Wilson and Carteret counties. Guilford County reported the state's first two H1N1-related deaths. State health officials said all four victims had underlying health conditions.

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