The aim of this study was to evaluate the preparedness for and response of Maine summer camps to the 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 (pH1N1).
We conducted a retrospective web-based survey of the Maine Youth Camping Foundation members at the end of the 2009 camping season. The outcome measures were responses to the pandemic including educational efforts, isolation practices and antiviral usages as well as percentage of influenza-like illness (ILI) and laboratory-confirmed influenza outbreaks among Maine residential summer camps.
Of 107 residential camps queried, 91 (85%) responded. Although 43 (47%) of 91 camps reported cases of ILI, and 19 (21%) had outbreaks (ie, 3 or more confirmed cases of pH1N1), no respondents reported closing camps or canceling sessions. Most camps reported that they communicated with campers’ families about pH1N1 and implemented control measures, including educating campers and staff about symptoms, isolating ill campers and staff, encouraging increased hand washing and hygiene practices and increasing the availability of hand sanitizers. Of the 43 camps with cases of ILI or laboratory-confirmed pH1N1, 25 (58%) used antiviral medication for treatment, and 18 (42%) used antiviral medications for prophylaxis; antiviral practices varied among camps.
Summer camps in Maine were in general well prepared for pH1N1. Most camps followed public health guidance and implemented preventive measures. Many camps experienced ILI and outbreaks during the season, but did not report major disruptions. Camps should review their preparedness and disease control plans annually and public health authorities should keep guidance and recommendations simple and consistent.