August 4, 2009
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) (See http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html.) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 (See http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en/.) A Phase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is under way.
The Boy Scouts of America has been monitoring the situation and is providing this update to its participants to help them be prepared as the summer camping season moves forward.
There is no need to panic; the prevention measures that Scouts and Scout camps across America take every day are the key to managing H1N1. We anticipate that stories will continue to appear on all major news outlets due to increased recognition and heightened awareness of H1N1 across the United States. We also expect increased numbers of reported infections worldwide as the flu season begins in the southern hemisphere. We anticipate additional reports of pneumonia, respiratory failure, and even death that are associated with flu of any kind.
We consider the best, most up-to-date source of reliable information on the subject to be the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (See http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu.) On Friday, June 12, 2009, the CDC published Guidance on Day and Residential Camps. (See http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/camp.htm.)
What you can do to keep our Scouts healthy and safe this camp season:
Recognize influenza-like illness (ILI) in yourself or your Scouts. A key signal is feeling feverish or having a temperature greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) if measured, especially if combined with one or more of the following.
- Upper respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, runny nose)
- Body aches, headache
If you are sick, STAY HOME! Parents, if your child is sick, KEEP ’EM HOME!—For at least 7 days after symptoms began or 24 hours after symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. Want to know what to do if you have flulike symptoms? (See http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/sick.htm.)
If you or your Scouts develop any of the above symptoms while at camp, immediately report the illness to the camp health officer and keep the patients away from other campers.
Staff members, immediately report any ILI in yourself or your Scouts to the camp health officer.
Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through the coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. (See http://www.cdc.gov/cleanhands/ .)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread that way.
Review your personal and business continuity plans.
Engage your local health and safety and/or risk management resources to assist in review of activities, events, or gatherings. Some examples from around the BSA include:
- Liaison with local public health officials for council or district gatherings.
- Contact public health officials for up-to-date reporting protocols.
- Provide training to all staff and volunteers at camps to recognize ILI.
- Publish FAQs to address common questions about unit activities and provide local guidance.
- Implement day or resident camp–style medical screenings in conjunction with your camp physician at events or gatherings.
- Review policies on care of an ill participant or one who becomes ill at an event, including quarantine procedures and sending Scouts home.
- Review business interruption and event cancelation clauses in insurance policies and contracts.
- Review your meeting location arrangements (i.e. school campus) as to what will happen if they are closed or unavailable.
- Place hyperlinks to either the CDC or Scouting Safely Alerts on your Web sites.
Additional information is also available by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or through the links below.