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CORTLAND Red rash bedevils middle school



Published: Fri, November 30, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The cause of the rash is still being investigated.

CORTLAND -- Lakeview Middle School was open today despite the outbreak of a rash that caused 15 children to go home early Thursday and 12 others to visit the school nurse.

"We are sure that it is not life-threatening," Superintendent Matt Chojnacki said this morning.

The rash is characterized by some redness and swelling in the head and neck.

The Trumbull County Health Department has advised the school it is safe to remain open.

"It really and truly is not a painful and ugly danger," Chojnacki said. "It is simply red."

Some pupils have also complained of slight itchiness.

Several children who were sent home yesterday were back at their desks this morning after consulting with dermatologists, the superintendent said.

What's suspected: The most likely cause of the outbreak is an allergic reaction to something the children either touched or inhaled, he said.

It is possible that pupils may be coming down with the rash for various reasons and there may be a psychological component to the outbreak, which has affected primarily sixth-graders in the fifth- through seventh-grade building.

There may also be a psychological component to the outbreak.

"There is a certain amount of panic that goes on when you have children of this age get itchy," Chojnacki said.

Attendance: A note explaining the situation was sent home with pupils Thursday, perhaps contributing to a 10 percent drop in attendance at the 400-pupil school today, he said.

School officials haven't pinpointed a cause yet after questioning the custodial and cafeteria staff about any changes in products used in the school.

Health officials continued the investigation today.




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