USA: Tracing SARS-CoV-2 diffusion during a summer camp

A summer camp in Georgia (USA) became a major SARS-CoV-2 cluster. At least 260 of its 597 attendants tested positive. The discovery confirms that children can contract the virus and play a key role in its spread.

More than half of campers under 10 years of age contracted the virus

A summer camp in Georgia (USA) recently became the scene of a major outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. At least 260 of the 597 campers, visitors, and staff members were positive. The discovery confirms that children can also contract the virus and can also play a key role in the spread of the virus.

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In Georgia, USA, a summer camp with overnight accommodation for children and adolescents was organized in June 2020. Staff members (120 people) and trainees (138 people) went to the camp for introductory training from June 17 to 20. On June 21, 3 staff members and 363 participants attended the first session of the summer camp (scheduled from June 21 until June 27).

Upon arrival, all those present at the camp (staff members, trainees, participants) showed a negative result of a viral test for SARS-CoV-2. The summer camp adopted most of the suggestions pertaining to health guidelines for youth summer camps in Georgia to minimize the risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among the measures not taken, however, were the requirement of masks for all participants and the opening of windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings. Cloth masks were only mandatory for camp staff. Camp participants were grouped in dormitories and engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

On 23 June, a teenage member of staff left the camp after showing feverish symptoms. The following day (24 June) the teenager was tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Summer camp officials began sending participants home and closed the camp on June 27. The Georgia Department of Public Health immediately launched an investigation, recommending that all participants be tested and self-quarantined.

The analysis data refer to all 597 persons residing in Georgia (27 persons were excluded) who attended the summer camp. The average age of the participants was 12 years (range = 6-19 years), and 53% (182 out of 346) were female. The average age of staff members and trainees was 17 years (range = 14-59 years), and 59% (148 out of 251) were female. Test results were available for 344 participants (58%). Of these, 260 (76%) were positive. The overall attack rate (attack rates were calculated by dividing the number of people with positive test results by the total number of people living in Georgia who attended the camp) was 44% (260 out of 597), 51% among 6-10 years old, 44% among 11-17 years old, and 33% among 18-21 years old. The attack rate increased with the increase in time spent in the camp, with staff members having the highest attack rate (56%). Of the 136 cases with available symptomatology data, 36 (26%) patients did not report any symptoms. Among the 100 (74%) who reported symptoms, the most commonly reported symptoms were fever (65%), headache (61%), and sore throat (46%).

The report’s results are subject to at least three limitations. First, the reported attack rates are probably underestimated. Second, given the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in Georgia in June and July, some cases may be due to transmissions before or after camp participation. Finally, it has not been possible to assess individual caution with respect to preventive measures at the camp.

These results show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread strongly in a community of many young people, resulting in a high attack rate among people of all age groups. This survey adds to the body of evidence that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to initial reports, could play an important role in transmission.

Source:
Szablewski CM, Chang KT, Brown MM, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Infection Among Attendees of an Overnight Camp — Georgia, June 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 31 July 2020. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6931e1

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