Area camps vigilant, but there’s no sign yet of H1N1 virus

Swine flu has so far not struck children at Central Alberta summers camps, including the Penhold cadet camp.

Swine flu has so far not struck children at Central Alberta summers camps, including the Penhold cadet camp.

Ontario recently confirmed more than 225 children at several summer camps have H1N1 virus symptoms.

Dr. Martin Lavoie, medical officer of health with the central zone of Alberta Health Services, said there are no cases at local camps.

“We don’t have anything linked with H1N1 right now,” Lavoie said on Thursday.

Alberta Health Services has issued a guide for camps to reduce the spread of H1N1 that includes routine screening of campers and staff, an isolated area for people who are sick, and hand-washing facilities at multiple sites.

Campers should be educated on hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and limiting personal contact with other campers, for example sharing personal items like water bottles.

Alberta has seen 1,382 cases of H1N1 so far this year with three deaths and 34 new cases since Wednesday. No new cases have been reported in Central Alberta which has had 40 cases this year.

“It’s fairly mild over all, that’s what we’ve seen across Canada and in the States,” Lavoie said.

“It’s actually milder than the regular influenza that we get in the middle of winter.”

He said a similar virus probably circulated a few decades ago making older people somewhat protected while children and young adults may be more susceptible when exposed to the virus.

Capt. Amber Wenzel-Novakowski at Penhold Air Cadet Summer Training Centre, said her camp is monitoring cadets for symptoms and so far there’s no sign of H1N1.

“We’re taking it very seriously. The camp is very healthy — no incidents,” Wenzel-Novakowski said.

Right now about 600 cadets are at the Penhold centre where cadets from British Columbia to Newfoundland will be attending camp.

She said hand-washing stations are everywhere and have been in place for years, but campers and staff are more diligent about washing up now because of H1N1.

“We have cleaning wipes for all the classrooms, all the desks, all the chairs, so cleanliness is of the upmost importance.”

In Ontario, health officials are not recommending any camp closures.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com