Dozens of children and a few adults got sick at a Florida summer camp, and officials are scrambling to figure out what happened, WTSP-TV (Tampa) is reporting.
On Wednesday, a “mass casualty event,” as state officials are calling it, broke out at the Cloverleaf 4-H camp at Lake Placid, about 100 miles south of Orlando. It’s not clear, from media reports, when the illness broke out, but on that day, some of the children began falling ill, reporting headaches, nausea and vomiting. At least one child passed out.
Highlands County Public Safety Director Marc Bashoor said that it was the child passing out that made camp officials decide to call 911.
“There was nausea, vomiting. Some had headaches and then of course the one that had passed out that prompted the 911 call.”
By Thursday, according to the Broward Sun-Sentinel, 33 adults and three kids had been taken to area hospitals. Fortunately, none of them were seriously ill enough to be hospitalized beyond overnight.
In a tweet, Highlands County Fire & Rescue confirmed the incident.
“Final update: 33 children and 3 adults transported to 2 area hospitals. No cause determined at this time, investigation turned over to Health Dept. Last EMS units leaving scene.”
Heather Kent, the interim associate state 4-H program leader, said that about 120 kids from across the Sunshine State, ranging in age from eight to 15, attended the camp.
“We have been focusing on the wellbeing and safety of the youth who have fallen ill. In addition we are communicating with their families first and foremost.”
The remaining 90 or so kids who didn’t get sick were scheduled to go home Friday, but many parents have already opted to pick up their kids early. At least 50 kids opted to stay through the end of the scheduled camp session.
So what happened? As of this writing, health officials haven’t said much publicly. Parent Kevin Harrison, whose 12-year-old daughter, Kylie, was one of the sickened kids, expressed his frustration at the lack of answers.
“They know absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing. They don’t know what it is. I just wish I knew what was going on, it’s rough not knowing anything about what’s going on.”
4-H is a network of organizations focused on providing youth development and empowerment opportunities, according to its website, 4-H.org.
“Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, AGRICULTURE and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.”