Calvert County deaths linked to Influenza A

The house of the 81-year-old victim. (Photo: Suzanne Kennedy)

Three family members in the Lusby area died and another has become ill in a case that authorities believe is contained within the affected family.

The victims were all related and lived in the Rousby Hall Road neighborhood in Lusby. Authorities Tuesday said two of the victims died from Influenza A that was made worse through an underlying infection. Authorities have also confirmed that a third victim who was hospitalized has Influenza A.

The first patient, 83-year-old Ruth Blake, became sick on Feb. 23. Three of her children--a son and two daughters all in their 50s--arrived on Feb. 28 to take care of her.

Blake died on March 1. One daughter, 56, and her son, 58, both died on Monday while a third daughter, 51, remains at Wash Hospital Center in critical condition.

Authorities have not confirmed Blake's cause of death. The deceased siblings both died from Influenza A and the surviving sibling also has Influenza A.

"We have a positive test from the CDC that said the brother and sister who died had Influenza A in their blood," said Dr. Janis Orlowski with Med Star Washington Hospital Center. "We're asking the question, is this a stronger flu. We have no evidence to support it but that's what we're looking for."

Doctors don't know how Ruth Blake died, but they suspect she spread the flu to her children.

“The presumption is the three children caught this from their mother, not at a workplace and we have no knowledge that they were anywhere other than in the home,” says Dr. David Rogers of the Calvert County Health Department. "This is an extremely unusual event."

Donning protective suits, Calvert County Health Department officials took no chances Tuesday as they went into the home to do testing.

Health officials say the cause of the illness has not been confirmed, Environmental testing on the house will be done.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, the department says they "will continue to work with the health care providers and others on this situation and will update Calvert County residents if new information important to their health becomes available.”

Public health officials are fairly confident no one else is in danger from the super infection that ravaged the family.

"It's heart wrenching," said neighbor April Ricker. "I don't understand why God would do something like that to the family."

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