Camp closes after kids get sick

July 2, 2009 4:32:43 AM PDT
Summer camp ended early for some kids from Chicago. Camp Wonderland in Camp Lake, Wis., voluntarily closed after kids and counselors came down with flu-like symptoms.Buses from the camp arrived back home on the city's South Side this afternoon.

Officials don't know yet but it could be the H1N1 virus that is responsible for bringing hundreds of children home early to Englewood on Wednesday night. It has also forced the cancellation of many other summer camps across the nation as the summer fun is over early at Camp Wonderland.

Nearly 200 children boarded buses on Wednesday at the camp in southern Wisconsin. Most of them, including sisters Natalie and Natia Weathers, arrived home disappointed their week-long camp was cut short by four days because of a precaution against the flu.

"Both my counselors had the flu. So they didn't want us to catch it," said Natia Weathers.

It's a frustration for stay-at-home mom Patrice Weathers but she said she'd rather have them home safe than sick.

"I appreciate them taking every precaution they could," said Patrice.

They cleaned windows and sanitized all of Camp Wonderland on Wednesday afternoon. The camp is voluntarily shutting down for 10 days. The local health department recommended the move after five children were sent home with flu-like symptoms.

The Salvation Army's Major Mark Johnson said it's one of the most difficult decisions he's ever had to make.

"They look forward to this all year long. Many of our campers are repeat campers who look forward to coming here," said Major Johnson.

Several counselors have tested positive for flu but they're still waiting to see if it's the H1N1 virus. The public health department says at this late date the seasonal flu is over, so odds are it is the H1N1.

"In school or camp settings transmission can occur because young children are in close contact with each other," said Dr. Julie Morita, Chicago Health Department.

Dr. Marita said she doesn't know of any summer camps in Chicago that have had a shutdown because of the flu.

It's too early to say whether any of the kids who came home early have the flu because it takes several days for symptoms to develop.


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