Several dozen plastic flutes believed to be contaminated with semen were distributed this past spring to schools in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley and elsewhere in Southern California.
On Monday, health experts in Orange County claimed that exposure to the flutes were not a major health risk to the students.
The flutes were provided through the program “Flutes Across the World,” whose initiative is to connect young students in SoCal with underprivileged students in the Philippines through arts and crafts, according to Robert Pletka, the Fullerton school district’s superintendent.
Officials from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s Sonora Elementary School and the Fountain Valley School District’s Courreges Elementary emailed parents alerting them that they believe they are among schools in the 14 districts possibly affected.
According to the LA Times, authorities are still currently investigating the music specialist suspected of contaminating the musical instruments with semen.
The suspect has not been identified, but we know that he wasn’t an employee of the affected Orange County districts, and worked at multiple schools districts in the Southern California area.
Dr. Carl Schultz, a professor emeritus of emergency medicine and public health at UC Irvine, believes that unless the suspect “smeared his semen on the flute and handed it to the kids right away, there’s really not a risk of transferring anything”.
Schultz noted that some sexually transmitted diseases can be spread through semen, but the risk of infection in this situation is likely very low. “Sexually transmitted diseases are time-sensitive and don’t tolerate changes in temperature or drying out”, he said.
The Health Care Agency is suggesting that concerned families consult their primary medical providers about an individual risk assessment.
Districts have asked parents who find the flutes in their child’s possession, should take them and place them in a sealed paper bag to preserve evidence.