Parents are outraged after learning that a music teaching specialist working with California schools may have contaminated the students' flutes with semen.
A number of school districts in Southern California warned parents that the flutes or recorders, which were given to students via nonprofit music program Flutes Across the World, may have been contaminated with bodily fluids, including semen, The Washington Post reports.
Authorities are investigating a music teacher who worked with the program. The suspect has not been identified, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"The performer distributes a flutelike musical instrument made of PVC pipe or bamboo to students during a music lesson, and the allegation is that he contaminated some of these instruments with semen," said Saugus Union Superintendent Joan Lucid in a message to parents, adding: "These allegations are deeply concerning and I realize they raise many questions."
According to Lucid, children had never been left alone with the music specialist.
"We will continue to provide updates to our families as they become available," said Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Shannon Haber. "We are deeply disturbed by these allegations and remain committed to the safety and well-being of all of our students."
Saugus Union instructed students to put the flutes in question into a bag and contact police.
Fullerton School District, which had workshops with a presenter from the program via the Orange County Philharmonic Society, said that local police had determined flutes from that program would not need to be tested.
"My kids have brought these flutes home," said Fountain Valley School District parent Tudy Balta. "They're putting their mouths on it, and they're playing with these instruments. And for someone to contaminate it with their bodily fluids, that's disgusting. My kids could've gotten sick."
While the situation was disturbing for many parents, experts said that it does not pose a health risk to the students.
Orange County Health Care Agency Medical Director of Epidemiology and Assessment Dr. Matthew Zahn said via a spokeswoman that he "believes the situation does not present a health concern."
"Unless this guy smeared his semen on the flute and handed it to the kids right away, there's really not a risk of transferring anything," said UC Irvine Professor Emeritus of Emergency Medicine and Public Health Dr. Carl Schultz. According to Schultz, the organisms that can spread sexually transmitted diseases through semen cannot survive for long outside of the body.
The Health Care Agency recommended that parents concerned about their children's health speak with their primary medical care providers.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is reported to be leading an investigation into the incident.
"Protecting children from crimes of sexual abuse and exploitation is a priority of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service," it said in a statement. "We remain steadfast in our efforts to investigate, apprehend, and assist in the prosecution of those who seek to exploit children."