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About 100 fall ill after a convention in Grand Rapids; county health department investigating

The Kent County Health Department says that approximately 100 people got sick following the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association annual convention last week.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Approximately 100 people have fallen ill following a convention held at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, and the county health department is working to learn more.

The National Rural Letter Carriers' Association held their annual convention from August 7th to August 18th. When the event wrapped up and attendees had gone home, more than a handful of people found themselves sick with flu-like symptoms.

Steve Kelso, the Kent County Health Department's communications manager, says the type A flu was spread quickly from person-to-person contact at the event, leaving almost 100 people sick. Those people are spread across 25 states, including Michigan. Kelso says while the numbers are growing, epidemiologists are seeing that the illness is "mostly contained to these individuals."

"Our main goal right now is to gather specimens from these patients to get more information about the virus, because right now we know it's Influenza type A but we want to submit these specimens to the state lab for further characterization or identification," Kent County Health Department Epidemiologist Brian Hartl said.

The health department has not nailed down the exact strain and have been in contact with the Kalamazoo and Van Buren county health departments for further testing. The KCHD is working closely with the state health department to better identify the strain of flu.

Health officials urge the public to cover your cough, wash hands frequently and stay home if you're sick.

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