Cluster of respiratory-related deaths under investigation in Md.


Calvert County health officials say initial testing of two family members shows the serious lung infection suffered by all four family members was a complication of the seasonal flu. Samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing.

Four members of one family were hospitalized this week with respiratory infections, health officials say. An 81-year-old woman died from the infection. Two of her three children, who were caring for her, died later in the hospital. They were 58 and 56.

The surviving sibling is still in the hospital but has been upgraded to fair condition.

Medstar Washington Hospital Center reports the son and daughter who died in the hospital had Influenza A. They also had other medical conditions, officials say.

Tuesday – 3/6/2012, 2:56pm ET

WASHINGTON – Three people in the Lusby, Md. area have died from a respiratory illness and the Calvert County Health Department is investigating the cluster of deaths.

The case appears to be confined to a single family and there are no other individuals affected, the health department says.

At this time, they are not recommending any protective actions for the general public.

Calvert County schools made automated phone calls home to dispel rumors, says Deputy Health Officer Dan Williams.

The first case of illness was reported in an 81-year-old woman who began showing symptoms around Feb. 23. Three of the woman’s children took care of her in her home.

The three children, a son and two daughters, developed similar upper respiratory symptoms around Feb. 28.

All four of the family members were eventually hospitalized and became critically ill.

The elderly woman, a 58-year-old son and a 56-year-old daughter died.

The other daughter is currently hospitalized at the Washington Hospital Center.

The state Office of Chief Medical Examiner is working to determine a cause of the illness and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been asked to evaluate tissue samples from the victims.

The health department is recommending that Calvert County residents take standard precautions to prevent the spread of illness, including washing their hands and limiting contact with sick individuals.

Those with flu-like symptoms should check with their healthcare provider to be evaluated.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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