The Paulding County coroner said today, Jan. 9, she sent the bodies of two people to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for autopsies to determine if they died from the flu.
Lindsey Eberhart Fuller said the bodies of a 17-year-old girl and 29-year-old man were sent to the GBI after they died within a day of each other, WSB-TV reported.
Both were healthy before they died which was “a cause for concern,” she said.
Meanwhile, WellStar Health System issued a statement saying that, there was “no evidence” either patient died of a "tick-borne" disease despite speculation circulated on social media about the possibility.
Some on social media had speculated the deaths may have been linked to a disease called hemorrhagic fever -- some forms of which the CDC reported can be spread by ticks or rodents.
“Out of respect for our patients and their families, we cannot share specific details about individual cases,” said the WellStar statement. .
“However, we can share that many of the details provided by other sources on recent flu cases are inaccurate and unfounded. To date, there is no evidence to support the speculation of tick-borne illnesses in these cases.”
It said WellStar Paulding Hospital “along with most of the country, is experiencing a higher volume of patients with influenza-like illness.”
“Please be assured that the health and safety of our patients is our greatest priority. Our staff is trained to properly evaluate and care for patients presenting influenza-like symptoms, and we are working closely with Paulding officials, leaders and first responders to care for this community and keep you informed."
Fuller on Wednesday, Jan. 8, issued a statement confirming that two people in Paulding County had flu-related symptoms before they died but also said no other types of diseases which circulated on social media were the cause.
She said there are “no confirmed cases of anything other than flu in our county.”
“It is unfortunate that so many unsubstantiated rumors have circulated saying otherwise. The steps that were taken to report these deaths to the proper agencies are not out of the norm.
“I realize that there are a lot of rumors circulating at this point and that is why I am issuing this statement.”
“There have been two deaths in Paulding County in the last day or so. Both patients had flu-related symptoms with one patient confirmed to have had flu in the days prior to death.
“I have consulted with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office and the District Health Department as part of proper procedure and protocol with any death that falls into these guidelines. I have also been in close contact with our local hospital and sheriff’s department.
“I want to reiterate that ALL sudden deaths where the decedent has little to no medical history are reported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. And in the event of death from complications from or of an acute illness an autopsy is most likely done.”
Fuller added in her Wednesday statement that, “This is flu season and we know that, though rare, the flu can lead to death for some individuals. Unfortunately, this is a reality that has always been the case.
“It is important that if you do show symptoms of being ill that you take the appropriate steps and precautions. I encourage you to cover your mouth when you cough (or) sneeze, wash your hands, get your flu shot if you haven’t already, and seek medical attention if you suspect you have the flu.
“If you have a confirmed case of the flu, I encourage you to stay home. I encourage you not to go to work, school, church, restaurants, or other public places where you can spread the infection even if you are ‘feeling better’ or ‘feel OK right now.”
“As always me and my team are committed to the families we serve as well as we are dedicated to assisting and providing support to our local medical staff, law enforcement, and first responders.”