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Flutes possibly contaminated with bodily fluids given to O.C. students, prompting investigation

Federal authorities are investigating the distribution of a batch of colorful flutes given to students at various Orange County schools that may have been contaminated with bodily fluids, officials said.

At least three school districts — Fountain Valley, Newport Mesa and Capistrano — notified parents this week about the instruments, according to the Orange County Register.

An email from Mark Johnson, superintendent of the Fountain Valley School District, informed parents that an independent contractor gave fifth-grade students at Courreges Elementary School flutes and recorders “that were potentially contaminated with bodily fluids” in June, according to the paper. The report did not specify which fluids.

The contractor, who was not identified, did not work for the affected districts in Orange County but worked at other districts in Southern California, the Register said.

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An email from the Newport Mesa Unified School District said the flutes may have been given to students in four classrooms at Sonora Elementary School, the Register said. A spokesman for the Capistrano Unified School District told the newspaper that they were still trying to determine which schools may have received the possibly tainted instruments.

The state attorney general’s office told the Los Angeles Times in a statement that it was “supporting” an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in part by working with local police and the schools to collect the instruments.

It was not clear why the Postal Inspection Service was involved. Calls to the agency from The Times were not immediately returned Saturday.

Messages from The Times to officials in the school districts were also not immediately returned.

The flutes were made of plastic pipes and wine corks, the Register said. Some of the districts had asked parents to place the instruments in sealed paper bags so they could be examined as evidence.

kate.mather@latimes.com

@katemather

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