Investigation Continues Following Mystery Illness at Conference
JEFFERSON CITY - Health officials say two people who became sick while attending a coroner's conference have tested positive with strains of influenza.
Following the conference, which was held last week at the Truman Hotel in Jefferson City, dozens of people reported experiencing respiratory and flu-like symptoms. Several of these people were hospitalized.
In a letter sent to attendees of the conference, Missouri Department of Health acting director Gail Vasterling wrote, "Although influenza has been reported, the investigation is ongoing to identify other possible causes and sources of the illnesses."
Jeremy Eivins, the Harrison County Coroner, was hospitalized at the Capital Regional Medical Center last Thursday following the conference. He took a rapid influenza test upon admittance to the ER, but the test returned with negative results. Following a full test that was administered by own doctor on Monday, however, Eivins received different results.
"My screen came back today saying I had Influenza A," Eivins said. "It's a flu unlike anything I've ever had before. It's my lungs more than anything."
Health official Gina Terlizzi said the department is still talking with individuals who attended the conference, as well as other guests and staff from the Truman Hotel. Thus far, she said no one outside of the conference has reported any symptoms of illness.
While the department has confirmed two cases of influenza, Terlizzi said the department was unable to reach every attendee. It has thus far been able to reach 113 out of the 126 people present last Thursday.
"When we say illness, there are a wide range of symptoms," Terlizzi said. "38 people have said they have some sort of fever, cough or sore throat. 43 people had other symptoms."
Eivins said he has yet to inform the health department of his recently confirmed case of Influenza A.