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Camp Orkila closed, 300 children sent home as swine flu precaution

Camp Orkila on Orcas Island is being closed and about 300 school children from King County and Richland are being sent home after six children and one adult exhibited flu-like symptoms Thursday night, the San Juan County Health Department reports.

County Health and Human Services Director John Manning reported that 267 of the children arrived from the Tyee Middle School in Bellevue on Tuesday evening and another 36 of the children are from the Christ the King School in Richland. The children from the Richland area are leaving via the 10:20 a.m. ferry. At this point, health officials say none of the Richland-area children have exhibited symptoms.

The children from Bellevue will depart on a later ferry to coordinate with school buses being sent to pick them up in Anacortes.

Manning said this is a precautionary measure because of the concern about the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. At this point, there is no positive indication the H1N1 virus is involved, Manning said.

Currently, no cases of H1N1 virus have either been confirmed or classified as “probable” in San Juan County, although as of yesterday Manning reported that a “handful” of samples from people exhibiting flu-like symptoms have been forwarded to the state Department of Health for testing.

The county has stockpiled enough doses of anti-viral medications to treat about 10 percent of the county’s population. Manning said an additional shipment of antivirals from the federal government’s strategic stockpile is expected to arrive next week.

“That should give us the capacity to treat up to 25 percent of the residents of the county and that is more than the number of people we would expect to become ill during a pandemic,” Manning said in a press release. No swine flu vaccine is available, but certain anti-virals have proven effective in relieving the symptoms of those who have been infected, he said.

Manning urges anyone who has become ill to call ahead and notify their health care provider before going to the provider’s office.

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