Local News

Flu spreads in Duke summer camps

Posted June 25, 2009 12:31 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2009 7:17 p.m. EDT

— Duke University officials reported Thursday that there are 14 confirmed cases and more than a dozen suspected cases of influenza among students and counselors participating in summer programs on the Duke campus.

The cases are suspected to be the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, the only strain currently prevalent in the Triangle, officials said. The cases are generally mild and comparable to seasonal influenza, they said.

The confirmed and suspected cases have come from Duke’s Talent Identification Program, American Dance Festival and summer youth programs for science and writing.

“Their symptoms are pretty much what you’d see with other kinds of flu,” Dr. Bill Purdy, director of Duke’s student health center, said in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with all of the summer programs to identify anyone who may have been exposed and to provide appropriate follow-up. We are evaluating the situation as it evolves and are working with both public health and infectious disease experts to ensure that the summer programs at Duke are safe for all participants.”

Duke will host 75 program sessions this summer, bringing nearly 7,800 students to campus for both day and residential camps to pursue interests in academic subjects, dance, science, writing, sports and other areas.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that summer camps prevent the spread of flu by focusing on early identification of ill campers and staff, keeping those people at home or away from others and practicing good hygiene.

The CDC didn't recommend closing any of the camps.

Duke has asked the parents of sick students to pick them up, and it has quarantined those who can't be picked up in a dormitory, where they can receive medical care until they can return to camp, said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs.

University officials also have contacted parents of campers to let them know about the flu cases, including parents who haven't yet dropped their children off for camp, Schoenfeld said.

"If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, any of these influenza-like symptoms, then do not bring them to camp. Do not bring them to campus. We will not let them in, and your money will be refunded," he said.

As of June 19, the CDC had reported 21,449 confirmed and probable H1N1 cases nationwide, including 125 in North Carolina. The reported its first swine flu death on Wednesday.