Campers sent home after two people test positive for whooping cough

LONGBRANCH, Wash. -- Hundreds of kids from a popular summer camp in Pierce County had to be sent home after two people tested positive for pertussis, also known as whooping cough. It is a highly contagious disease, especially dangerous for young children and babies.

YMCA Camp Colman said the two people who tested positive for pertussis are adults, who had been helping out at the camp. The concern is so great that the camp is contacting the parents of 1,200 kids, who attended the camp since late June through now.

“We take the health and safety of our campers at highest priority,” said YMCA Executive Director of Overnight Camping Meredith Cambre. “We are taking it very, very seriously and told them immediately as soon as we had that information. We’re in touch with the health department and have been working in collaboration with them ever since.”

Tacoma/Pierce County health officials are so concerned that it recommended the camp close the rest of the week.

“I think we’ve alluded to that about how contagious it is,” said Steve Metcalf, a Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department spokesperson.

It’s why the camp is taking the advice seriously to send everyone home and wait until they can re-open for the summer.

Health officials say whooping cough:

-Symptom are flu-like and include sneezing, coughing and a whooping sound when taking deep breaths

-Can be easily spread through contact with someone who is infected

-Is treatable with antibiotics, which we’re told the infected staffers are taking.

-Is preventable with vaccinations

Camp is expected to be back open by Sunday. Camp leaders say those who had to be sent home early were given refunds and an opportunity to attend other day camps in the greater Seattle area.