SD Unified officials say Audubon students sickened after lunchtime dare

Children put various items in drinks

SAN DIEGO - A dare during lunch caused 22 children to fall ill at a Lomita-area school, San Diego Unified School District officials said Friday.

On Thursday, 22 students at Audubon Elementary School on San Vicente Street had to be medically treated after becoming sick, authorities said.

A preliminary investigation by district officials showed that during lunch, several fourth-grade students -- on a dare -- tried to see how many food items could be put into milk or juice. District officials said carrots, salt, pepper and hot sauce were among the items mixed with the drinks, which several students then drank.

Soon, some of the students started vomiting, and more than a dozen others were complaining about being sick to their stomachs. Ultimately, 22 youngsters from kindergarten through seventh grade reported feeling ill, and city paramedics were called.

Ambulance crews took 18 of the children to hospitals, where they were evaluated and released. The other four were immediately turned over to their parents.

Personnel with the county Health and Human Services Agency were called in to look over the school's cafeteria, which had served 425 meals Thursday. The investigators, who found no immediate sign of any problems with the facility, were expected to issue their final conclusions about the incident next week.

The school's kitchen, cafeteria and outdoor lunch areas were all sanitized overnight.

"There's no evidence of any ongoing public health threat," Brandais said.

The parents of the sick students have been informed of the investigation's findings.

School officials theorized that some of the youngsters who complained about digestive distress might have been feeling "sympathy pains" with those falling ill, and some merely could have been taking advantage of a handy opportunity to get out of class, Brandais said.

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