Mysterious rash outbreak sends 60 Philadelphia youngsters home from school

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2002

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- An outbreak of mysterious rashes among schoolchildren continued here this week, with about 60 youngsters sent home with itchy, pink blotches.

The rashes on the students' arms and necks surfaced nearly two months after hundreds of students in the area complained of similar rashes. Since October, 14 states have reported outbreaks of unexplained rashes affecting 10 to 600 people at a time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found no common cause for the outbreaks.

About 34 students at Mast Community Charter School in northeast Philadelphia reported the rash Wednesday and were sent home. Another 26 were sent home Thursday, said Karen Delguercio, president of the school's board of trustees.

The school sent letters to parents of nearly 1,000 students explaining the problem.

''What the Health Department told us is that it appeared to be a viral infection similar to this mystery rash that's going around,'' Delguercio said.

Similar rashes closed two Pennsylvania elementary schools and an intermediate school in early February.

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