Dozens of Freeport students come down with a mysterious rash. The outbreak occurred as students returned from winter break. We talked with school leaders and health experts about whether parents should worry and how they're responding.
Itching and scratching students lined up outside of the nurses office at Freeport’s Carl Sandburg Middle School. Since Monday, nearly 30 students have come down with the irritating red rash.
"It seems to be topical and in some cases it has some bumps. In others cases it's just redness with some itching and burning, but mostly it's mild,” says Jeff Todd of Stephenson County Health Department.
School leaders say the rash of rashes mostly is affecting students in two classrooms, but they haven't found the source.
"So we disinfected the classrooms and notified all the parents in the two classrooms because it was between two,” says Principal McNulty.
Carl Sandburg Middle School is not alone; a similar rash has shown up at schools in at least eight U.S. states. The source has not been detected and it usually clears up in pretty quickly.
"It is a mild rash. Most of the physicians that have seen our children say it looks like an allergic reaction. Give them some cream and send them back to school,” McNulty says.
Health experts say it's unlikely that they'll pin point the cause of the rash but they're looking.
“We're looking at food, the school menus, ventilation systems. Things the students may have brought into school,” Todd says.
Todd says the rash simply could be caused by cold, dry winter weather. It also says it's not contagious in that it is not spread from person to person.