Orange County Outbreak: Students And Staff At Lake Forest Elementary Covered In Rash Of Unknown Origin

An Orange County outbreak, marked by itchy spots of red on the body, has medical experts scratching their heads as to what could be causing the mysterious reaction, Daily Mail reports.

Thirty students and ten faculty members of Lake Forest Elementary School in Orange County, California, as well as five others who are part of the same school district, have been affected by the skin irritation.

The red marks have come in the form of what looks to be bites and welts of a rash-like pattern, appearing in many different areas of the body, from the face, down to the chest and arms, and in some cases all the way down to the feet.

The Orange County outbreak is being investigated by Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control, and spokesman Jared Dever has told sources that after testing they can say for sure that the reaction is not due to mites, flees, spiders, mosquitoes, or mice. Dever also says that due to the nature of the symptoms, bed bugs have been ruled out as a likely cause.

Now that likely culprits have been eliminated, Dever’s team has been busy planting traps throughout the area in hopes of catching the insect or animal guilty of starting the outbreak. According to him, insects that bite or sting are at the top of the list of suspected causes.

In the wake of the Orange County outbreak, Lake Forest Elementary was treated with pesticide both inside the school and outside around the entire grounds, but so far it’s been to no avail, as since then new cases have come up. This weekend the grounds will be treated a second time.

“Lake Forest Elementary closed its fields last Friday after discovering all 10 staff members affected in the outbreak were involved with the after-school program. The program is held in a portable building next to one of the school’s fields, which have since been reopened. Staff members have continued to keep the students off the fields this week out of caution, but children are still coming home with new bites.”

In spite of this, one student who has not been out in the fields, nor involved in said school program has displayed new symptoms one week after getting the initial rash. The boy’s mother, Darnell Grunkemeyer, told sources that she noticed two bites on him that hadn’t been there before.

In addition to the spray, manual efforts to seek out the problem were done using lint rollers, sticky bait, and CO2 traps, all of which failed to attract anything.

Tensions between school staff and parents increased after parents realized that they had not been notified about the Orange County outbreak until almost ten days after the school had been made aware of it by the district.

District staff claim that the reason it took so long for parents to be notified of the outbreak was because at first the problem was thought to be of a benign nature, nothing more than a simple rash or mosquito bite.

According to the Orange County Registrar, parents are also concerned about the pesticide being used in an effort to counter the problem, because it doesn’t seem to be working, despite what county officials have said.

“The district hired a company to spray pesticides around general-use areas and the perimeter of the grass fields at the school last weekend. The county Health Care Agency said in a statement Wednesday that reports of ill children had decreased since the spraying.”

There seem to be conflicting stories here, because according to what Darnell Grunkemeyer reported, the pesticide has not been working, if her son’s symptoms are anything to go by.

“They don’t seem to be looking out for [the kids’] best interests at this point. I don’t feel comfortable with my kids going there now,” the mother is reported to have said.

The Orange County outbreak has caused itchy, sleepless nights, confusion, and has ruffled its share of feathers throughout the school district. So far, attempts to get to the root of the problem have failed, but not for lack of effort. Hopefully this issue will get solved sooner rather than later.

[Featured Image by KuLouKu/Shuttershock]