Teen faith camp became superspreader event in wisconsin, CDC reports

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A sign for a Covid-19 drive-thru testing site alongside US Highway 12 is seen as the coronavirus outbreak continues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (REUTERS)
A sign for a Covid-19 drive-thru testing site alongside US Highway 12 is seen as the coronavirus outbreak continues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (REUTERS)

A Wisconsin faith-based teenage summer camp may have functioned as a coronavirus superspreader event leading to 116 cases of the virus likely from just one person, a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report has said.

The report, released on Thursday, showed that an outbreak at a high-school retreat between 2 July and 11 August led to Covid-19 diagnoses for nearly 80 per cent of the camp’s attendees.

The boy who unknowingly likely caused the outbreak had tested negative for the virus before arriving at the camp. The camper later learned that a family member received a positive test result approximately one week after his departure to the retreat.

After a small group of children who were in close contact with the boy became sick or tested positive the state health officials tested nearly all 152 attendees at the camp on 28 July, The Milwaukee Journal first reported.

According to the CDC, at least one confirmed case was found in every dormitory room and yurt over the course of the outbreak.

The agency said that the outbreak shows that “mitigation plans that include prearrival quarantine and testing, cohorting, symptom monitoring, early identification and isolation of cases, mask use, enhanced hygiene and disinfection practices, and maximal outdoor programming are necessary to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks in these settings.”

All of the outbreak-related illnesses were mild to moderate, none of the cases required hospitalisation and no deaths occurred, the CDC said.

“Covid-19 spreads like wildfire when you bring a lot of people together in a relatively small space,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, Wisconsin’s deputy health services secretary, told The Journal.

“If there was one person who was ill with Covid-19, they easily spread that to everyone in their housing unit and then the nature of summer camp where you eat meals together, go swimming together, do activities together, sing around the campfire together — all of those activities are great spreading events.”

She added: “That’s how it would go to one person to over 100 people in a very short period of time.”

The overnight summer school retreat included high school-aged boys, counsellors, and staff members from 21 states and territories and two foreign countries.

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