Possible mass psychogenic illness among 30 Springfield kids - KMSP-TV

Possible 'mass psychogenic illness' sent 30 Springfield kids to hospital

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photo provided to FOX 9 by Springfield Advance-Press photo provided to FOX 9 by Springfield Advance-Press

The Minnesota Department of Health said "mass psychogenic illness" may have been what caused 30 students to get sick at Springfield Public School on Thursday. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been ruled out.

Police were called to the school at 9:30 a.m. on reports of students passing out and throwing up in the auditorium while practicing for a choir concert.

The ill students were treated for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, but no gas leak was found and professional readings for carbon monoxide came back negative. Blood tests on 13 students for carbon monoxide poisoning also came back negative.

Mass psychogenic illness is defined as "the collective occurrence of a constellation of symptoms suggestive of organic illness but without an identified cause in a group of people with shared beliefs about the cause of the symptoms." (NIH)

In simple terms, for example, a child could get nervous and vomit, then the symptoms rapidly spread to others in the group. In this case, the students were in a group practicing for a choir performance – a "classic" scenario according to the health department.

Springfield is about 2 hours southwest of the Twin Cities and just west of Mankato. The school remained closed on Friday.

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