- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Three members of a Lusby family have died from a severe respiratory illness, and preliminary testing indicates two of them had influenza.
The Calvert County Health Department and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is investigating their deaths.
Over the last two weeks, four members of the family were admitted to the hospital for severe respiratory illnesses and three of them have died, according to a health department press release. Symptoms of the respiratory illness were not included in the press release, nor were the names of the victims.
According to the press release, an 81-year-old woman became sick about Feb. 23 at her home with upper respiratory symptoms. Three of her adult children, a son and two daughters, were taking care of her and also developed similar upper respiratory symptoms about Feb. 28.
All four people were hospitalized and became critically ill. The 81-year-old woman, the 58-year-old son and a 56-year-old daughter have since died. The other daughter is currently hospitalized at the Washington Hospital Center, the press release states.
At this time, no other similar clusters have been reported from Calvert County or elsewhere in the state, according to the health department website.
The cause for these illnesses is under investigation and testing is being conducted by the DHMH Laboratories Administration.
According to the website, preliminary testing at the DHMH Laboratories Administration indicates that two of the people that died had influenza, and these cases may have been complicated by bacterial co-infections, which is a known complication of influenza infection. Additional testing is being conducted for all cases.
Calvert Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Kasia Sweeney said Tuesday morning that one of the family members died at CMH and two others were treated and transferred.
Dan Williams, deputy health officer at the health department, said the information given in the press release is “all the information we have at this point.”
According to the health department, there is no information that indicates the need for special preventative measures such as antibiotics for those that may have had close contact with the affected family.
The health department will continue to work with the healthcare providers and others on this situation and will update county residents if new information important to their health become available, the press release states.
Sweeney said the hospital took normal precautions when the patients were admitted to the hospital, which included isolating the patients and telling all staff, family members and visitors to wear masks when in the same room as the patients. She said the illnesses were reported to the health department, per procedure.
“In abundance of precaution, we have put up signs asking people with respiratory illnesses or fever to refrain from visiting patients,” Sweeney said, but that is also standard procedure that should always be followed. Also, the hospital asks that children younger than 13 not be brought in as visitors to patients.
Anyone suffering from influenza-like illnesses, including a fever, cough or sore throat, is encouraged to check with a healthcare provider to be evaluated and see if antiviral or other medications would be beneficial.
Calvert County Public Schools sent out a press release that states the health and safety of the students and their families is CCPS’s primary concern. The school system is in close contact with the health department to stay aware of the situation. CCPS has not been advised by the health department to take any specific precautionary measures, the press release states.
The issue was also discussed at Tuesday morning’s Calvert County Board of County Commissioners’ meeting. In a handout given to those present at the meeting, commissioners said county fire rescue and EMS staff will remain diligent about using appropriate precautions in the care of patients with respiratory symptoms. The commissioners said the Criminal Investigative Team from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office will be investigating the case and a Hazardous Materials team will conduct a follow-up investigation at the family’s home.
In the handout, commissioners urged residents to help prevent the spread of infection by washing hands with soap and water; covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with sick people; staying at home if you are sick; and limiting contact with others to keep from infecting them.
“Hand washing is the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of infection,” Sweeney said.
Staff Writer Carrie Lovejoy contributed to this report.