On May 17th 2012, twelve students and two teachers who were studying in one room suddenly came down with a red rash on their arms, legs and body at 9.30 in the morning. The unusual problem created a tizzy and school authorities were quick to call in the regional hazmat response team to evaluate the condition. The school was closed down and 80 unaffected students were shifted to another building for evaluation. The affected students were separated by gender and transported by bus to the Memorial Regional Hospital.
Before entering the hospitals, they were made to undress and walk through multi-stage showers, cleaned with several showers of emulsifying or neutralizing agents, and then monitored for 24 hours. None of the patients developed further problems or breathing conditions and were discharged within 24 hours.
What was found? Absolutely nothing and that is the most surprising part. The HazMat team evaluated the students, the furniture in the room, student clothing and a range of other substances that were found in the school but nothing out of the ordinary was found. A range of biomedical tests were also carried out on the students but nothing out of the ordinary showed up.
Even though nothing could be isolated from the outbreak, the scary part is that this is not an isolated incident. In the last year itself, three incidents have been reported in different parts of the US. On 20th March, at Gainesville, Georgia, a similar rash affected 20 high school students and a custodian. The skin effects were similar to poison ivy but no precipitating factors were found. Again on 31st March, 31 students at a Chicago Elementary showed similar symptoms.
An earlier report on October 2010 with students at a Swansboro School in North Carolina showing rashes. There was a rash problem also cited in March 2009, as 11 teachers and 9 students showed rashes at a McKees Rock school. No precipitating factors were found all of these attacks and school authorities are still mystified as to cause. A quick search on the internet showed lots of results. A news report on the Philly.com website goes back to 2002 where more than 14 states and a range of schools where affected with the rash. The CDC was quick to step in at the time and deal with the rashes by isolating and shutting down schools. However, no cause was found for the condition at the time too.
Different Theories For The Mystery
Scientists agree that humans have been increasing their use of chemicals in the last few years. On an average, almost every human being has 9-49 synthetic toxic chemicals in their blood. This is referred to as our toxic body burden. Women with multiple children seem to have a lower burden as they transfer their accumulated chemicals to their children during breastfeeding or during pregnancy. It is possible that a few of the accumulated chemicals inside the student’s bodies reacted with surface chemicals resulting in a rash or a visible chemical reaction. However, this explanation still does not explain how all the students had the same reaction at the same time in the same room.
Another very common rumor doing the rounds is the use of powerful Wi-Fi networks in affected schools. Although this report has not been proven, some parents at have been vocal instating that the Wi-Fi network could be responsible for the problems. Still, why are only some effected? Can it be an allergic rash reaction?