A mysterious illness has been reported in Council Bluffs, Iowa after an estimated 70 students suddenly reported symptoms within hours of one another. The sudden outbreak, which remains a mystery has been tested but with inconclusive results. So what could have caused so many to get sick so quickly? And why is the disease seemingly so localized?
An estimated 70 elementary students reported symptoms in less than two days including gastrointestinal distress and vomiting. Though the illness was localized to one school, the mystery deepens as tests prove inconclusive. Health officials have suggested it may be an uncommon noro virus. Powerful caustic agents have been deployed by technicians in an effort to stop the outbreak along with a new policy of disposable lunch trays.
But is this sort of thing unheard of? Earlier in November a mysterious illness struck at a facility in Urbandale requiring two children to be taken to hospital. The symptoms of the November Second incident included vomiting and what were described as flu-like symptoms at the Metro Ice Sports Facility. After examining the facility the fire department discovered nothing in the facility itself that could be causing the illness, including the air they were breathing.
And Iowa certainly isn’t the only state to see multiple mysterious illnesses in the span of one month. In Texas 22 people were transported to the hospital when they reported severe nausea. The students affected had little in common and no single cause could be discovered. After the evacuation, other students who had been nearby were reporting nothing unusual. It’s unclear what the cause in this case was as well.
So what could have caused this string of illnesses? And are they somehow connected? It should be noted that mysterious sudden bouts of illness among closely congregating groups of people are not uncommon. But generally these do eventually have some sort of explanation. So why are so many getting sick now? A number of causes are possible. Carbon Monoxide, for example, in higher than normal amounts can bring about symptoms very similar to those described. Even though the carbon monoxide levels were examined in the case of the ice rink, it could have dissipated long before the Fire Department was able to arrive. In the case of the football game, the game was being held outside and unlikely to have localized carbon monoxide for long periods of time in the windy autumn air. The aforementioned noro virus possibilities are also being examined. But is it possible there could be a thread between these illnesses?
The most mysterious outbreak of illness was possibly the dancing madness that struck in 1518 when Frau Troffea began dancing and was soon joined by hundreds of others, with some not stopping until they were at the point of death. The cause of such strange behavior was never determined. Ultimately historians suggested it may have been a form of mass hysteria, though this is hotly contested. Mass hysteria is not being suggested by any medical authority in the case of this latest string of illnesses, however.