Virus Strikes; Bible Camp Shut Down

June 24, 2008 9:34:20 PM PDT
A local summer camp has been shut down, and dozens of kids sent home after they became sick. The children were attending Yosemite Bible Camp in Oakhurst. Investigators need several more days before they know exactly what happened at the camp. People reported having major stomach problems. Preliminary reports indicate about 85 kids and adults became ill by the highly contagious norovirus.You won't hear the sounds of kids having fun at Yosemite Bible Camp. They arrived on Saturday from churches across the valley. But by Tuesday afternoon, campers were gone ending 24-hours of confusion and concern. Camp director Mike Avedikian said, "One kid was running around the bases playing baseball. He rounded third before he got to home, he threw up, turned around and ran to the nurses station. That's how bad he felt." Avedikian said on Monday morning less than a dozen kids complained of stomach problems. By sundown that number exploded-letting adults know that something was spreading fast. Avedikian said, "We took every single person, camper and staff. We washed them 20 seconds vigorously with soap from elbow to finger, both arms ... hosed it off."

The Madera County Health Department deployed a team to find the bug that caused the illness. They inspected the kitchen, water supplies and the pool. Phil Hudecek is the supervisor of environmental health. He said, "Those are common areas that have gotten people sick before in the past." Health officials said the symptoms are similar to norovirus-a very contagious illness. Cheryl Edgar is the county's nursing director, "The complaints have been nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Again, we're just looking at the timeline. Looking at foods eaten, who came to camp sick and how soon sick people got sick thereafter."

Edgar praised the camp for shutting down and cleaning all surfaces with a bleach solution. Despite their efforts, the camp will remain closed until July 12.

The norovirus causes what many people call the stomach flu. There is no medication against the virus. Health officials say most people should feel better after 2-days.


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