U.S. parents think twice about sending kids to camp

Fri Jul 3, 2009 10:47am EDT
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By I-Ching Ng

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Since its opening last week, camp counselors at New Jersey's Liberty Lake Day Camp disinfect door knobs, take the temperatures of children as they arrive and remind the campers not to share canned sodas.

Many of the 12,000-plus summer camps in the United States are ramping up their efforts to guard against the spread of the new H1N1 swine flu, which has caused the first pandemic of the 21st century.

While H1N1 influenza has caused mild symptoms that go away without medication in most patients, it has killed 170 people in the United States and more than 300 globally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says at least a million Americans are likely infected.

Swine flu outbreaks have prompted temporary closure of Indiana-based Camp Livingston, a YMCA day camp in West Virginia, and all of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's summer programs.

Many parents are debating whether they should deprive their kids of the summer camp experience because of the new flu.

New York resident Jing Zhang said she decided to keep her 5-year-old daughter at a local day-care center.

"Why I would want to spend a fortune on the summer camp when the risk is the same?" she asked.   Continued...

<p>A coach and youth walk on stilts at Circus Smirkus camp in Craftsbury Common, Vermont August 5, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>