While Lauren Rutkowski and her husband Joel await the arrival of energetic, sun-drenched children for their seven-week camp each summer, the couple explores the canoes and paddle boards, handicrafts, menus – and camper cudgels.
The number of measles outbreaks in the United States continues to increase, rising to 1,044 cases nationwide this year. In response, more and more camp owners and the camping industry are calling on families to follow vaccination guidelines.
Some camps, where all participants need to be vaccinated against measles, have not admitted campers who have not been vaccinated, even though the parents have religious objections.  These efforts to prevent the journey of the measles virus into and within camps are not in vain. Medical experts warn that the virus can spread quickly in a confined space.
"The camps have definitely taken the position."
Deciding not to accept them, "said Lauren Rutkowski, the owner and director of Camp IHC in Pennsylvania, which is accredited by the American Camp Association and has no non-medical exceptions accepted.
As for the camp, "we always check the medical records when they came in, we have actually checked more medical forms of international staff, because different countries have different ways of filing. "
What has changed, Rutkowski said, is the Camp IHC often participates with more than 30 other camps in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, in camp sports activities, and this year the Wayne County Camping Alliance has all participants in Das The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine: the first after 12 to 15 months and the second after 4 to 6 months of age.
"This was a major change in Wayne County, which I believe really helps to protect the families who send their children to our camps during the summer," said Rutkowski.
"I was really interested in finding the Camp Alliance's position on vaccinations, because it's one thing for me to make sure my community is immunized, but other camps that come to my property or I go to them 'Do not enforce vaccinations, this is obviously an issue endangering my community,' she said.
She added that the growing attention devoted to preventing the spread of measles in camps reminded her that swine flu in 2009 was a problem for camp owners. The H1N1 strain of swine flu has infected many people – in the United States, there were about 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospital admissions and 12,469 deaths, according to the CDC.
"Similar to measles, it can be left behind on door handles and lift buttons" Something like that, "said Rutkowski.
"Although the camps were concerned with an increase in adenoviruses and the like, we are ready and prepared to deal with the protocols we already have." She said. "With things like swine flu and now measles outbreaks, the camps have thoroughly reviewed their protocols and may have made some changes – for example, accepting exceptions or not vaccinations.
A camp's decision to allow religious or philosophical exceptions usually meets the requirements of its state or city in schools.
New York is the epicenter of the US outbreak. There, more than 800 people have become ill, and New Yorkers have infected people in four other states. Last week, Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, signed a law requiring schoolchildren to be vaccinated nationwide, even though parents have religious objections. In other words, the legislation eliminates non-medical exemptions from school immunization regulations.
"Thus, the camps, especially this summer, have definitely taken the position that many, who may have previously accepted religious exceptions, say, 'No, not this summer. We're sorry, "said Susie Lupert, executive director New York and New Jersey, American Camp Association.
"The camps accept the fact that they may lose families, and some families have returned and said," Do you know what? We're ready to return this summer and get the MMR, "because they really want you Child visited the camp. "
A study published last year in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice previously noted that the MMR vaccine is one of the camper vaccinations required or recommended by at least 80% of New York camps.
who are regulated and accredited by the association are doing their due diligence to track and ensure medical records. RVs are not exposed to any increased risk of infectious diseases. "
Yet," there are thousands and thousands of camps in this country that are unregulated – they are not licensed, they do not keep medical records, they do not do any background checks on their staff – and there are many gaps in how a camp can get away with it. "
" Parents need to do their research and make sure they choose a camp, which is located on the minimum is regulated and should in our opinion at our Ver be accredited.
What medical experts say about measles and camps.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new recommendations on health and safety practices at summer camps, recommending that all campers and staff members be up-to-date before starting their vaccines.
The recommendations refer to non-medical exemptions for required vaccinations as "inappropriate" and note that "these exceptions should be removed from the camps".  The recommendations are not "excluding" or "isolating" children, but "it's really about keeping the children safe and secure," Dr. CharlRe & # 39; Slaughter-Atiemo, a The pediatrician at the University of Maryland at White Plains, who was not involved in the explanation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
She described the public health threat that the country's measles outbreak could cause in summer camps as "scary" and "a little bit" a bit dangerous. "She encouraged parents to vaccinate their children, especially if they plan to visit a camp this summer.
"For every public school and, frankly, for every camp or daycare, children must submit a vaccine record when they apply for these programs – and whether a program accepts them or not is obviously at their discretion," said Slaughter -Atiemo and pointed out how some accept philosophical or religious exceptions, while others may not do so.
"New York, Texas, Florida, California – all these areas where many people travel internationally and go back and forth; These are the big risk areas, "she said. "I'm sure there are many camps and programs in these areas that make it compulsory for children to receive the vaccine before they enroll in the camp."
The rules and regulations regarding in-camp vaccination requirements may vary by state, county, and even individual camp programs.
With regard to schools, for example, there are "no federal laws, but by state there are several different laws. Some states only allow medical exceptions. Some allow for medical exemptions and then other religious or philosophical exceptions, "said Brittany Kmush, an infectious disease assistant professor at Syracuse University in New York.
She added that the measles virus can easily spread in a closed environment such as a sleepover summer camp.
If an infected person coughs or sneezes, the measles virus can remain contagious in the air for up to two hours, even after that infected person leaves the area.
"So it's very contagious – a very contagious disease – and if a child with the measles virus gets into a camp and spreads it, it endangers the other children," said Kmush.
"You will not send them to the summer camp without sunscreen," she added. "You should probably send them with all their vaccinations too, because you want to give them the best time they can have in the camp, and if they're sick, they will not be able to."