Approximately 40 students at a Milton-Union, Ohio, middle school were treated Friday by medics after they ingested suspected ghost peppers at the school, officials said.
The incident happened during the lunch period, and the district was still working to determine how many students were involved and where the hot peppers came from, said Superintendent Brad Ritchey of Milton-Union Exempted Village Schools.
Police and emergency crews were called to the school on Milton-Potsdam Road. The investigation revealed all involved students “took these peppers voluntarily,” according to police.
In total, five students were taken to local hospitals and approximately 40 students — ages 11 to 14 — had ingested the peppers.
“The response of emergency services was amazing; deputies and help from surrounding paramedics … we really had a lot of help here this afternoon,” Ritchey said. “This was serious but sometimes situations at schools become far more serious than this.”
Ritchey said symptoms ranged from blotchy skin, hives, tearing of eyes, sweating and general discomfort.
Cody Schmidt, an eighth-grader at the school, said he tried one of the peppers and it was in fact “really hot.”
Schmidt said he began to get nervous as people around him started to have allergic reactions.
“We all drank like 10 cartons of milk,” Schmidt said, adding he didn’t know the student who handed him a pepper.
According to the 9-1-1 caller from the school, one 13-year-old boy broke out in a rash and had trouble seeing, while two other students were vomiting.
The district sent a one-call to all parents around 2 p.m.
School officials have identified the student who brought the peppers to school, but it’s unclear whether the student will face any discipline.
“It was definitely a disruption, and school disruptions are in our school code of conduct,” Ritchey said.
Pam Bucaro, clinical nurse specialist in the emergency room at Dayton Children’s Hospital, said the hospital worries most about exposure to hot peppers if the child has a history of asthma or if oils from the pepper reach the skin or eyes.
Otherwise, treat the symptoms at home using an antacid and wash the skin with soap.
“Kids will be kids, and sometimes they do challenges and dare each other to do things,” Bucaro said. “These are not games and there can be serious effects when ingesting things.”
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