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Mysterious Illness Hits Over 60 Students: Could It Be Carbon Monoxide?

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Over 60 students and several adults at the Fère-Champenoise primary school have fallen ill with unexplained symptoms. Investigators are exploring all potential causes, with a focus on carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mysterious Illness Strikes Fère-Champenoise School Group

A perplexing illness has affected students and adults at the Fère-Champenoise primary school in Marne, with the cause still undetermined. Since Thursday, May 30, around sixty students and several adults have experienced symptoms such as vomiting, itching, and headaches while going to the canteen. Initially suspected to be carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities have not ruled out other possibilities, including allergens in the air.

The first wave of symptoms appeared on Thursday, May 30, resulting in the hospitalization of 21 children and one adult. The symptoms recurred on Friday, May 31, affecting around twenty more children and leading to the hospitalization of 22 students across Épernay, Châlons-en-Champagne, and Romilly-sur-Seine. The prefecture highlighted that while the condition of the affected individuals was not immediately concerning, the exact cause of the illness remains unknown.

In response to the situation, the school was temporarily closed on Monday, June 3. Despite the closure, similar symptoms were reported among the displaced students and an adult, who had been relocated to the town's House of Associations and a local college. Firefighters, emergency medical services (SAMU), and the environmental health service of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) have been actively involved in investigating the issue.

Investigations and Resource Deployment

The comprehensive investigation efforts included the deployment of an Identification and Sampling Detection Vehicle (VDIP) by the Eastern defense zone, which serves as a mobile laboratory. The prefect of Marne, Henri Prévost, has been overseeing these efforts. Despite initial suspicions of carbon monoxide poisoning, no conclusive evidence has been found, and other avenues, such as allergens, are being explored.

Significant resources have been mobilized, including firefighters from nearby emergency centers and the Moselle Civil Security, to investigate and identify the source of the students' symptoms. Private companies are conducting air quality analyses, particularly focusing on the time frame between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. when the students first fell ill.

The local authorities, in coordination with the National Education services, have established a listening cell for the affected children and are offering after-school care options for parents. The situation is being closely monitored, and investigators are proceeding methodically by eliminating potential causes one by one.

  • The onset of symptoms includes headaches, nausea, and trembling in the legs, as described by the parents of the affected children. One parent reported that despite initial symptoms subsiding, they reappeared after the child returned to class.
  • Municipal efforts include the participation of a private firm tasked with air quality analysis amidst concerns about potential allergens.
Clam Reports
Refs: | Le Parisien | Le Figaro |

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