Up to 35 students fall ill on camp trip

Salmonella blamed; at least one from FRES hospitalized

Source of Article:  http://www.ledgertranscript.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090428/LEDGERTRANSCRIPT/904280453/1315

 

By NICK MARTIN
Monadnock Ledger-Transcript Staff


April 28. 2009 8:55AM

WILTON -- As many as 35 students from Florence Rideout Elementary School have become ill with possible salmonella poisoning and at least one has been hospitalized after a trip to an environmental education camp last week.

Stone Environmental Camp in Madison has voluntarily closed at the request of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services while they investigate how the salmonella is being spread, according to a statement released Friday by the Director of Public Health at the DHHS, Dr. Jose Montero.

"It has been very difficult in this case to trace the exact source of the salmonella bacteria," Montero said in the statement. "It is not possible at this time to explain how the children became infected. It could be a food preparation issue or a contaminated item or a previously existing illness in one of the food handlers."

Sixth grade students left for their annual trip to the weeklong environmental camp Monday. Some students became sick at camp and left early, but some didn't exhibit symptoms until after they returned home. The DHHS hasn't yet confirmed that the latest reported illnesses are caused by salmonella but has confirmed that salmonella infected several children from a Salem middle school who were at the camp a week before.

"During our interviews we've had several Wilton students tell us they've had positive salmonella test results but at this point we can't confirm it, because we haven't received any of those positive lab results," said Beth Daley, an epidemiologist with DHHS. "We've heard 19 of the 50 kids became ill at camp, however people can become ill a few days after they're exposed as well. That's why we waited to interview them (Monday)," Daley said.

The DHHS does not know how many students have become ill so far, because it has been difficult to interview every student who went on the trip since the Wilton school is on spring break this week, Daley said.

Wilton parent Meili Kronenfeld has compiled a list of about 35 students she believes became ill from salmonella poisoning either during or immediately after the trip. The DHHS confirmed that at least one student had been hospitalized with salmonella-like symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Karen Fredette said her 12-year-old daughter Bethany became sick Friday night after she got back from camp.

"We went to the doctor Sunday and they're testing her for salmonella. She can't keep any solid foods down," Fredette said.

The department has been investigating the camp since April 14, when as many as 98 students and staff from Woodbury Middle School in Salem, N.H., reported becoming sick with salmonella poisoning. The Bureau of Food Protection inspected the facility April 20. The department didn't close the facility until students at the camp last week from Wilton and Dedham, Mass., reported illnesses, according to the statement.

"We've investigated the first group, and now we're in the process of conducting interviews with the kids from Wilton who became ill as well," Daley said.

Department investigators will look for common food eaten by people who got ill and compare their diet to those who did not get sick. Investigators could have a better idea of the source of the contamination by the end of the week, Daley said.

"We also have a number of food specimens in our lab here for testing," she said.

Wilton School Board chairman Joyce Fisk said she was not aware of the salmonella poisoning reported by Salem students the week before Wilton students left for camp, and as of yesterday afternoon had heard some students were sick with the flu, not salmonella.

Stone Environmental Camp did not return phone messages left by the Ledger-Transcript.

 

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