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Former O.C. Fair worker diagnosed with swine flu

Parking department employee called fair officials three days after he quit working there to inform them of the diagnosis. Officials have taken required precautions, but some workers want more.

July 31, 2009|Tami Abdollah

Orange County Fair officials put out a memo last weekend informing employees that a worker had contracted swine flu, stirring talk among some staffers that fair officials may not be doing all that they could to protect them.

The unidentified employee who contracted the H1N1 flu was a part-time "parking lead" -- "more of an office employee" who worked Saturday and Sunday morning shifts, said Robin Wachner, a spokeswoman for the fair. "He never worked while ill," she said, adding: "There have been no other reported cases of swine flu among staff."

The man's last day of work was July 19; three days later he called his supervisor to report that he had a confirmed case of swine flu, Wachner said.

Orange County is experiencing an uptick in swine flu cases in the last month, according to local data. Because the virus has become so widespread, officials have stopped testing for individual cases because the effort was sapping resources.

Wachner said fair officials have followed all Centers for Disease Control guidelines and have spoken with county and federal officials to ensure that they followed protocol.

But at least one fair employee doesn't think that's enough. Tom Flores, 41, of Anaheim also worked in the parking department. He decided not to return to work Sunday after learning about the confirmed case.

"I've seen seven to eight different people who are coughing, just look like they have a cold . . . which is pretty uncommon in the summer," said Flores, a schoolteacher, adding, "It's the talk of the department" and others.

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tami.abdollah@latimes.com

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