Losing my religion: 11 sickened with Salmonella at Calif. camp

Ryan Torok of the Jewish Journal writes, Moshava California, a Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles overnight camp in the San Bernardino Mountains currently in the midst of its first session, is concluding the session early after and outbreak of Salmonella.

bnei-akiva“Recently, a group of 11 campers tested positive for salmonella,” a statement released July 12 by Bnei Akiva says. “Thankfully, we have had no new cases since last week, and our affected campers are well on the road to recovery.”

The first session was originally scheduled to end on July 17, but will end instead on July 14, as instructed by the Department of Environmental Health of San Bernardino County to allow the site to be “cleared and cleaned,” according to the statement, which is signed by Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles executive director Rabbi Menachem Hecht. The session began June 27. Approximately 180 campers are enrolled in the first session of camp, according to the camp administration office.

Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles is the local branch of the international religious Zionist youth movement. The camp is located in Running Springs, California, in San Bernardino County and serves boys and girls entering 3rd through10th grades.

Illinois 4-H camp hit with norovirus; makes a good risk management decision

Camping wasn’t a big part of my youth. My mom’s idea of camping (or roughing it as she calls it) was a hotel that didn’t have a working air conditioner.  When I was a teenager we went camping a couple of times and rented a trailer in a campground beside Darien Lake (a Western New York amusement park). Most of my camping time was spent chasing girls around the park and riding roller coasters. I camped a few more times in high school – which really just meant underage drinking in the woods.

And it always rained. XUprZ

Since my teenage years I’ve met many people that had great experiences at the organized extension of my definition of camping – summer camp.

Looking back, I think I missed out.

We plan on sending our boys to overnight camp, likely through 4-H. Through my extension position I’ve had a chance to interact with lots of the camp organizers and I’ve been impressed with what they do for food safety and infection control: It’s not that they never have problems; it’s that they seem to know how to handle things when people get sick.

This management thing and good risk decision making was exemplified by Curt Sinclair, director of a 4-H camp in Illinois. According to The News-Gazette, Sinclair was faced with a difficult decision when a norovirus outbreak hit his camp. With 10 staff and 30 campers ill, he shut down the camp for a week, canceling a session so the site could be cleaned and sanitized and letting the virus run it’s course in the staff.

“I can’t run the camp on Sunday if they’re still contagious,” said Sinclair. “We all need to stay separate. They need to be resting back at home. To run camp would be irresponsible.”

Campers and counselors alike began showing symptoms of the virus — diarrhea, vomiting and general body achiness — early Thursday.

“From about 2 a.m. till 11 a.m. is when we were having most people ill. It ended up being about 10 staff members and then a little over 30 children,” he said.

“The CDC recommends that 48 to 72 hours after you feel better, you should refrain from working in close quarters and in food service,” he said.

“It can spread very rapidly in a group setting with a lot of people. They’re very close, playing with the same hockey sticks,” he said.

“This response to this unfortunate outbreak of a virus is going to reinforce the trust of the public in what we stand for and how we run our operation. It was the right thing to do. (It) will benefit the camp long-term more than if we had tried to wing it somehow,” Sinclair said.

Between the hockey sticks and Sinclair’s response, this sounds like a pretty good camp.

Second gastro outbreak at Australian camp

Lots of people don’t get the food safety-hygiene thing.

Celebrity chef thingy Heston Blumenthal didn’t, making 591 people sick, yet he’s still regarded as a cooking icon in Australia.

Now, just two weeks after a violent gastro outbreak saw 55 students fall violently ill at a girls-camp-confidenceWagga Wagga camping centre, another group of children have come down with the bug.

The Murrumbidgee Local Health says late last week a number of students visiting the Borambola Recreation centre again presented symptoms of viral gastroenteritis.

Shortly after the first outbreak the facility went into lock down to be decontaminated under New South Wales Health protocols.

Days after the incident the centre was welcoming new visitors. 

This one time, at Scout Camp, I got norovirus

I was in Beavers and Cubs for a couple of years as a kid (that’s the Canadian equivalent of Boy Scouts). Each week my parents dropped me off and the parent/volunteer organizers led us through games and crafts (I remember capture the flag and making wooden cars). Every year there was an overnight camping trip that I opted out of. It wasn’t the possibility of norovirus that kept me from camp; it was the rumors of cold, wet cabins.

Centre Daily Times reports that Seven Mountains Scout Camp in Spring Mills PA is shutting down for the the final week of a scheduled camp after 20+ campers became ill with what sounds like Norovirus.

Jim Kennedy, the executive director of the Juniata Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said Sunday his staff decided to “be cautious and safe” and close the camp. About 140 campers were expected to arrive Sunday.

Kennedy said he’s in daily contact with the county health department and will continue to work with that staff.

“We’ve taken their recommendations in cleaning the camp,” he said.

That includes bleaching everything, including mattresses, picnic tables, the pool, camp office, shower house, and every other part of the camp (not sure what the bleach will do on the picnic tables – if they are wood, there’s lots of organic matter to gobble-up the active compounds -ben).

As of Sunday, Kennedy said water and swimming pool tests at the camp came back clean.

While he said extensive cleaning efforts have taken place since Friday, Kennedy said staff also have begun making changes at the camp to address the spread of germs. He said they installed hand-washing stations that campers would’ve used this week, “so they could thoroughly wash their hands in front of us.”

Other efforts include changing meals from family style to cafeteria, changing meal cleanup so there is limited contact with items belonging to multiple people, and bringing in nurses for health screenings upon arrival to camp.

The changes sound like good proactive practices that camps should be employing anyway – in the absence of illnesses.

Norovirus sickens camp kids in Colorado

My 15-year-old daughter is off to camp for a month on Sunday in Ontario, an annual ritual.

And, like every other year, there are outbreaks of foodborne illness at summer camps.

More than 50 campers, mostly children, have become ill from the norovirus at La Foret Conference Center and Retreat Center in the Black Forest, (Colorado, not Germany).

Ralph Townsend, the General Manager of La Foret, blamed others, saying two different groups became ill after staying at the conference center, but that the spread of the virus could have been prevented if the facility was notified in time, adding,

“We are a leasing facility and the first group did not follow the protocol, so when we were notified late about the illnesses, we were never notified immediately, and that made the situation worse.”

Susan Wheelan, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Health Department, said it appears all safety procedures have been followed successfully, and the source of the illness has not been determined.

One way to avoid norovirus – don’t drink raw sewage

A campground in New Zealand is set to reopen after a norovirus outbreak was linked to the camp’s water supply.

The Nelson Mail reports the outbreak of suspected norovirus at the Golden Bay Holiday Park may have been caused by sewage contaminating a creek running through the campground

During a routine bathing water survey of the area’s beaches a fortnight ago, Tasman District Council environmental protection officers found high levels of E.coli contamination at the mouth of the Tukurua Stream, which runs through the campground. The level was 700 most probable number (mpn).

Council environment planning officer Dennis Bush-King said a level of 240mpn would see the council start "intensive monitoring". At 500mpn, signs would go up warning people not to swim in the water.