Scouts may have been exposed to swine flu

At least a dozen Boy Scouts, all members of a Dunwoody troop, have suspected cases of the H1N1 virus — more commonly known as swine flu — after a week at summer camp, according to an assistant scout leader.

Troop 434 from All Saints Catholic Church, including 32 boys and four adults, arrived at Camp Daniel Boone last Sunday.

The Atlanta scouts were among 700 campers planning to spend the week in the North Carolina mountains.

But on Monday, several scouts from a south Florida troop were running temperatures in the low 100s, and experiencing mild flu-like symptoms.

"I believe that they were sick when they left home," said Dan Rogers, camp director. "But they weren't showing outward signs. There were no symptoms of them having an illness until they got to camp."

As more boys got sick, Rogers enlisted the help of the Haywood County Health Department in nearby Waynesville. Nearly two dozen campers showed flu-like symptoms, but only two have been confirmed as being H1N1, according to Rogers.

Troop leaders e-mailed updates to parents of the Atlanta scouts. Some parents opted to pick up their children Friday morning, and others returned home Friday evening, according to Ed Cerbone, assistant troop leaders.

On Saturday, many of the boys, including 11-year-old Matthew Cooper, were tested at local health departments. Matthew's test was negative, but his mom is still on alert.

"He still could test positively for it because it's got a long incubation time," Christine Cooper said.

There have been 41 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in Georgia as of Wednesday, according to the state Division of Public Health. The outbreak was first traced to Mexico in April.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared the spread of the virus a pandemic.

The camp staff spent the day cleaning to prepare for the arrival of the next group of campers Sunday morning.

"We have scrubbed the camp top to bottom," Rogers said Saturday evening. All of the troop leaders heading to camp have been advised to do temperature checks before leaving home.

With camp season just under way, Rogers said hundreds of troops from 15 states and Saudi Arabia are planning to attend camp this summer. When campers arrive at Daniel Boone, staff will be ready with thermometers in hopes of preventing the spread of illness.

"The goal is to get everyone here, have a good week, and send them home in the same shape we got them," Rogers said.