Swine flu probed at 4 more Ontario camps

Health officials were examining at least four more summer camps Thursday for cases of swine flu in Ontario's cottage country but said there is no need for parents to keep healthy children away.

WHO won't be posting numbers of individual H1N1 cases

Health officials were examining at least four more summer camps Thursday for cases of swine flu in Ontario's cottage country but said there is no need for parents to keep healthy children away.

The camps under investigation are in the Muskoka and Haliburton region and will have a few children clinically tested for the virus before being confirmed as locations with H1N1, said Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, acting associate medical officer of health for the Simcoe-Muskoka health unit.

This follows confirmation of swine flu at three other camps in the region, about 150 kilometres north of Toronto, with 227 children showing symptoms of the virus. All cases are considered mild, said Lamptey.

Another camp, the Christie Lake Kids camp near Ottawa, had two confirmed cases of H1N1 in early July and closed temporarily to clean its facilities. It is now open again.

The camps with confirmed cases are past their peak with fewer new cases being reported every day and none of the camps in the region has been closed because of illness, she added.

The affected camps are Camp Ramah, a Jewish education camp attended by more than 450 young people in Utterson, near Bracebridge; Olympia sports camp, just outside Huntsville; and Camp Tamarack in Bracebridge.

Ontario's health minister reassured parents Thursday that their kids aren't in danger and that the province is closely monitoring the situation.

Stay home if symptoms appear

Parents should rest assured that the government is working with local public health units to ensure their children's safety, David Caplan said in a statement.

Experts say the summer camps can remain open as long as they continue to follow ministry guidelines around the necessary precautions, he said.

Parents should remind their children to wash their hands to protect themselves from the flu, Caplan said, and should keep them at home if they show any symptoms.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said it was the responsibility of the local health units to monitor cases at summer camps, and Caplan said those health units are responding to inquiries by summer camp staff in a timely manner.

As of Wednesday, there have been a total of 10,156 laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu across Canada including 1,115 hospitalizations and 45 deaths, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The World Health Organization in early June declared the spread of the virus had reached pandemic level, the first time a global flu epidemic has occurred in the past 41 years. The organization raised its pandemic alert level to Phase 6, the highest on the scale.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Thursday that countries should stop counting individual cases of swine flu.

The agency said it's no longer needed in countries with established outbreaks. The WHO said it won't be posting numbers anymore, but it will be issuing periodic updates instead.

The organization said other types of information are more useful than counting cases. They include reports of unusual clusters of severe or fatal infections and surges in emergency room visits. 

With files from The Canadian Press