Flutes Possibly Tainted With Semen Given to Kids


State and federal officials are investigating how plastic flutes reportedly contaminated with semen were distributed among schools in Southern California. Concerned parents have expressed their shock while health experts say that there is little risk to the students who have come in contacts with the flutes.

Officials believe 14 school districts are possibly affected including ones in Santa Clarita, the Newport Beach-Costa Mesa area and Fountain Valley. 

Susan Castellanos was PTA president last school year at Fountain Valley’s Courreges Elementary School, one of those schools possibly affected.

She said Monday that her son, who was then in fifth grade and participating in Flutes Across the World, has a decorated flute from the program. She will hand it over to authorities to help with their investigation.

 “It’s just so disheartening,” Castellanos said of the case.

Authorities are investigating an unidentified music teaching specialist who is believed to have contaminated the flutes with semen.

Dr. Matthew Zahn, medical director of epidemiology and assessment, “believes the situation does not present a health concern.” Dr. Zahn has reached out to the schools involved.

Dr. Carl Schultz, a professor emeritus of emergency medicine and public health at UC Irvine, said some sexually transmitted diseases can be spread through semen but that the risk of infection in this situation is likely very low. The organisms that cause those diseases can’t tolerate changes in temperature or drying out over time, he said.

“Unless this guy smeared his semen on the flute and handed it to the kids right away, there’s really not a risk of transferring anything,” Schultz said.

The Health Care Agency suggested that concerned families consult their primary medical providers about an individual risk assessment.

Flutes Across the World’s website was down Monday. In an archived version of the site, the organization described itself as a nonprofit based in Ojai.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is leading the investigation with support from the California Department of Justice, according to the California attorney general’s press office.

“As part of the investigation, we are working with local law enforcement and school districts to collect instruments for the California Department of Justice to process,” the press office said in a statement.

It isn’t clear why the Postal Inspection Service launched the investigation. When asked for details, the agency said it doesn’t comment about ongoing investigations.

In a statement Monday, the service said: “Protecting children from crimes of sexual abuse and exploitation is a priority of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. We remain steadfast in our efforts to investigate, apprehend and assist in the prosecution of those who seek to exploit children.”

Members of the Fountain Valley school board declined to comment directly to the Daily Pilot. A school administrator, speaking on behalf of the board, said Monday that the district had no information to add since Friday’s announcement.

Read the full story at the LA Times


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