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Camp Likely Source Of RI Outbreak

Two of 15 Rhode Island sixth graders who came down with diarrhea after attending a three-day camp in Massachusetts have tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 and are being treated in the hospital.

Sixth graders from Rhode Island’s Lincoln Middle School returned last Friday from the long planned three-day visit to the pricey Camp Bournedale located 52 miles away in Plymouth, MA.

Last spring, soon-to-be sixth graders from four Lincoln, RI elementary schools were recruited to attend the camp for $300 per student.  The price included meals, lodging, and academic course work and supplies.

Campers included as many as 300 students and their chaperones.

While the Rhode Island Health Department investigates the outbreak, parents of Lincoln Middle School students were being told the diarrheal illness is not spreading person-to-person.   The school nurse is asking any parents with children who are suffering from fever, vomiting, or diarrhea to call her immediately.

Lincoln Middle School is in the Bristol/Warren School District.  Dr. Ed Mara, the superintendent, says the illnesses began at the end of last week and have escalated each day.  He is encouraging parents to send children who are not sick to school so long as their immune systems are not compromised.

The 72-year old Camp Bournedale is known for its summer camp for boys, especially for golf on the adjoining Atlantic Country Club.  Federal and state health officials are now investigating its food service as the source of the E. coli poisonings in Rhode Island.

On its website, the camp is proud of its dining.  “We think the variety of our menu is great. There’s a salad bar at lunch and dinner, and vegetarian options are available at every meal. Fresh fruit is put out for snacking between meals,” it states.

The camp owner told a local television station “they’ve never had anything like this happen before.”

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