Illness at Camp (or anywhere you have tons of kids sleeping together)

doctor, pediatrician, child, sore throat, illness, girlThe NIH (National Institutes of Health) published a study. It turns out, kids actually get sick sometimes at sleep-away camp. Who knew?

The study looked at 730 kids who went to camp for 2 weeks. There were 921 infirmary visits. Boys and girls presented with the same frequency and with the same complaints. The most common diagnoses were infectious disease and injury, infectious (contagious) diseases increased in frequency over time, while the frequency of injury remained stable.

What are the most common problems?

– gastroenteritis
– pink eye
– strep throat
– cold, cough
– lice, scabies
– asthma and allergies
– skin infections
– insect bites, including tick bites
– cuts, burns, head injury
– and the worst, homesickness

Can you prevent any of these? It isn’t easy because of the nature of the beast. You have large numbers of kids living in close quarters. It is like trying to stop a cold from spreading through your own home but multiplied by a hundred.
What you can do, is educate your child before he or she leaves.

– don’t share linens and towels
– follow the rules and stay away from unmarked areas
– sunscreen a couple times a day
– wear your hat, but don’t wear anyone else’s
– don’t be afraid to go to the infirmary at the first sign of illness
– don’t scratch
– stay clean and hydrated when possible
If you are worried your child will suffer from homesickness, you may want to read this article by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Preventing and Treating Homesickness. Hint: the answer is not to call them every day.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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