New information on the illness that struck a Pulaski County family. We've learned the father and two younger Simpkins' siblings are doing well physically.
Doctors have confirmed that those three all had evidence of Influenza B and Group A Strep- the same organisms found in the mother and daughter who died.
Doctors don't know why two family members developed severe pneumonia from the organisms while the other three did not.
Carilion Cinics Section Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Thomas Kerkering said there are just too many variables.
Meanwhile the other two people who were in close contact with the family did not test positive for either of those organisms. "The family friend and the trailer hauler had no positive test for these two," said Dr. Kerkering.
The family had been working to clean out an old, rodent infested mobile home on the family property in the days leading up to the illness.
Influenza B and Group A Strep are contagious and some parents with children who went to school with 8th grader Ginger Simpkins at Dublin Middle School are worried. Dr. Kerkering addressed that concern.
"They're parents so they're going to be worried. That's what we do," Dr. Kerkering said. "But they don't need to be in this situation and the reason is we are past the incubation period"
Dr. Kerkering also restated just how rare this co-infection is. "These two don't go together commonly even though Influenza B and Group A Strep are common, Again they just don't come together and then if they do they don't commonly cause disease," said Dr. Kerkering.
Just how rare is this combination? Dr. Kerkering said it's only been reported 7 times in the past 15 years.
"All of the health care workers including myself had very close contact with the family members and there have been no illnesses in any of the health care workers," Dr. Kerkering added.
Dr. Kerkering said Julie and Ginger Simpkins had rapid onset of severe pneumonia, likely the combination of the two organisms- that's why it's called a co-infection.
"It was all very rapid, in a period of three days of becoming unresponsive," Dr. Kerkering explained.
Because these cases are so rare, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local pathologists are continuing to investigate. The Chief Medical Examiner will rule the final cause of death.
Meanwhile Tim Simpkins and his elementary age children are doing well physically, Dr. Kerkering said.
The finding that Julie and Ginger Simpkins illness was not the result of Hantavirus, Dr. Kerkering said is helping the family cope.
"They themselves are relieved that it was not hantavirus because they were feeling very guilty about having people clean out their trailer to make it available for yet another low income family," Dr. Kerkering said.
"You know how humans think. They thought it was their fault ,that they had killed their family or were somehow responsible for their death," Dr. Kerkering said. They were relieved to find out it wasn't hantavirus and I that's going to go a long way to help the healing."