MANATEE — Letters were sent last week to parents of children at the G.T. Bray summer camp program confirming that one of the campers was infected with the swine flu virus.
The letter, which some parents received Saturday, tried to prevent panic among the parents, indicated “this particular strain appears to be less virulent than the common flu.”
Capt. Larry Lienhauser of the Manatee County Public Safety Department said Parks and Recreation Department officials were monitoring the situation and taking proper precautions.
“Keep in mind, this particular virus is pretty mild,” said Lienhauser. “The camp will not be closed down unless they start seeing a lot of cases.”
Ron Cox, director of disease control for the Manatee County Health Department, said parents should take normal precautions and not keep their children home.
“As long as there are not a widespread number of cases,” Cox said, “there’s no need to close down the camp.”
He said parents should talk to their children about basic infectious control strategies, such as proper hand washing, sneezing in a handkerchief or a sleeve, and being aware of the other children around them who may show symptoms of having the flu.
Those symptoms are coughing, fever, chills, fatigue, sore throat, body aches and headaches.
G.T. Bray officials ask parents to keep their children home if they have any of the symptoms and to seek medical attention.
“The primary mode of transmission is direct human contact, coughing or sneezing, or contact with an infected object then touching your eyes, nose or mouth prior to washing your hands,” according to the parks and recreation letter.
Lienhauser said camp counselors will be promoting the young campers wash hands with hand disinfectant available throughout the grounds.
As of Friday, there have been 19 confirmed cases of swine, or H1N1 flu, in Manatee County.
In Sarasota County, there have been 12 confirmed cases of swine flu, including four students who attended a summer college program at the Ringling College of Art and Design. The program was a four-week program for high school students called the Pre-College Perspective and was attended by 120 students. The first case was reported July 6.
None of those individuals resides in Sarasota County.
Christine Lang, a spokeswoman at Ringling, said the students were either quarantined from the population or sent home with parents.
Dianne Shipley, spokeswoman at the Sarasota County Health Department, said influenza illness in Sarasota County is approaching the same level as seen during the peak of regular flu season in March. She said many patients who check into hospitals for testing and treatment are doing so because of swine flu symptoms.
“Word is getting out about the symptoms,” Shipley said. “We did see a spike in increased visits to the emergency room after the first announced cases (of swine flu in Sarasota County) in May.”
The majority of those patients, she said, were between the ages of 2 and 47.
“This suggests an immune factor that may be present in older people,” Shipley said, “since they have previous flu exposure that’s not present in younger people.”
According to the Associated Press, state health officials say 22 people have died from swine flu in Florida.
The Department of Health released an updated death toll Wednesday, with labs confirming 10 new H1N1 deaths in the past week. Federal health officials have sent testing supplies to the state’s four labs, allowing state technicians to test samples without the additional step of sending them to the Centers for Disease Control.
The Florida Department of Health reports a total of 2,915 confirmed cases of H1N1 swine flu.