15 students from the McArthur High School in Florida were treated and released after contracting a rash; two teachers were also treated for the same rash. Parents are calling for answers as a hazmat response team searches the school, looking for possible causes of the irritant.
The school was locked down as soon as it was evident that there was a problem among the students and faculty. When the hazmat team arrived on the scene, they equipped a bus with a device known as a cocoon, which is used to keep the patients separated. All 17 people showing symptoms were then taken to the local hospital, which was prepared for their arrival.
The patients were forced to shower outside the hospital as part of the decontamination process.
"They were cleaned with gradually stronger emulsifying or neutralizing agents, even though the cause for the skin irritation was unknown," Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Joel Medina told the Sun Sentinel.
"It will remain a mystery unless Memorial Regional Hospital comes up with something. The kids had some sort of reaction; we just can't determine what it was," he added.
They were all treated and released as the hazmat team searched the school for some type of irritant, cleansed and sanitized the building. It will be open to the students again today, and Medina assured media that they "took every step available to try and determine what it was. We do know this: The symptoms never got any worse, and gradually went away."
The students and teachers all had hive-like rashes on their bodies.
"It was scary, but it was just rashes on my arms and back," Karina Barajas told the Sun Sentinel after leaving the hospital.
Her mom remains worried, though.
"It's scary. We really don't know what happened," Dora Sanchez told the paper.
One thing has been ruled out.
"After consultation with the hospital's infection control experts and the Department of Health's epidemiology team, we ruled out any infectious conditions. At this point there is no conclusive evidence as to the cause," hospital spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin said in an email.