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60 Nauseous Kids Taken to Hospital

April 16, 1998

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) _ More than 60 pupils _ mostly kindergartners _ and two teachers at the Wilson Street Elementary School were taken to hospitals Thursday after they reported suffering from headaches and nausea, authorities said.

The apparent cause of the mass illness was paint used in a kindergarten class on the school’s second floor, said Manchester schools Superintendent Norman Tanguay.

No one was seriously ill, but the school was closed and the children and teachers were taken to hospitals for evaluation as a precautionary measure, firefighters said.

The scene in the schoolyard was distressing after the school was evacuated, broadcaster Kevin Flynn reported.

``The school yard is filled with children holding their stomachs and crying,″ said Flynn, of WZID-FM. ``They are being taken away in school buses because there are so many of them.″

Firefighters got their first call for ambulances about 12:15 p.m., they said. The principal evacuated the school, and many of the sick children were taken to Elliott Hospital and Catholic Medical Center in school buses.

As word spread about the mass sickness, parents began arriving. School officials had brought the children’s medical records outside with them, and they also shuttled parents to the hospitals in school buses, Tanguay said.

By 2 p.m., the scene had calmed and the remaining children were jumping rope or playing ball, waiting for their parents or school buses to take them home.

School officials had reported a bad odor, and firefighters began checking for a possible gas leak. They also checked everything from paint containers to food as a possible source of the illness.

Tanguay said that by 2 p.m., they had narrowed the cause to paints used on posters in a kindergarten class.

The school has about 400 students from kindergarten through fourth grade.

A spokeswoman for Optima Healthcare Inc. said a number of teachers and pupils were being evaluated at both Elliott Hospital and Catholic Medical Center. Optima runs both hospitals.

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