Harrisonburg Camp Shuts Down After Reports of H1N1

By: Ed Drantch Email
By: Ed Drantch Email

The Centers for Disease Control says about one million people around the nation have been infected with the H1N1 virus.

On Wednesday, the CDC released a report on who would be the first to receive vaccine for the virus during the fall and winter months.

On Thursday, word was released about a Valley camp that had to close its doors because some students became sick with the virus.

After 11 successful seasons in the Valley, the Vocal Arts camp had to send students home early this summer after six of them contracted H1N1. With much heart-ache and deliberation, camp directors decided closing down was the best decision to make.

Signs around Harrisonburg welcome James Madison University students, but what they might not know is that H1N1 was reported at a summer camp on their campus.

Vocal Arts Director Jerrilyn MacDanel decided to shut down for the summer after more than 25 students showed flu-like symptoms and six tested positive for the flu. She says it was an unfortunate situation.

"Illness happens. I'm glad we were proactive and that we isolated the students and that our whole camp didn't become infected," says MacDanel.

Dr. Doug Larsen, from the Central Shenandoah Health District, says the H1N1 virus is considered type-a flu. However, confirmation of cases of H1N1, also known as swine flu, comes only after further testing.

"Now that we know it's here and we know how it's working, we're not doing all those tests because they're expensive and we know it's here. It doesn't add anymore information to either us or the doctors treating," says Larsen.

The students tested positive for type-a influenza at Rockingham Memorial Hospital last week. Larsen says positive type-a tests have a 95 percent chance of being the H1N1 virus and can be treated.

"If someone were to come into the office, they were symptomatic and their family members had been in contact with them, the doctors have the choice of using an antibiotic that can stop the progression among the family members, or lessen the effect of the one that's infected," says Larsen.

JMU officials say they've sent a letter to faculty and staff, alerting them of the virus on campus. Although the camp was on their property, JMU officials say they don't really have anything to do with the camp.

They say it's pretty much business as usual for them.

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