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4th graders fall ill after eating fetanyl-contaminated gummy bears

A student brought the bag of gummy bears to school and shared them with six other kids, all of whom soon became sick.
4th graders fall ill after eating fetanyl-contaminated gummy bears
Posted at 2:50 PM, Dec 13, 2023

Multiple students at a Virginia elementary school needed medical attention Tuesday after they ate gummy bears from a container that later tested positive for fentanyl, leading to the arrest of two adults, local authorities said.

The seven Central Elementary School fourth graders ate the gummy bears out of a plastic bag that one of them had brought from home, Amherst County Public Schools said. Each of the children began experiencing an allergic reaction soon after ingesting the candy, prompting school administrators to immediately notify emergency services and the children's parents, the district said.

Five of the seven students who ate the gummy bears needed medical attention,the  Amherst County Sheriff's Office said, with two being transported by EMS and three being driven by their parents to area hospitals for treatment

The sheriff's office conducted a field test of the bag of gummy bears, which reportedly tested positive for fentanyl.

During a press briefing Wednesday, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, Lt. Dallas Hill, said the candy itself didn't test positive, but residue inside the bag did. He said the gummy bears have been sent out for additional testing, which could take months to see a result.

SEE MORE: New syndrome may be developing in newborns exposed to fentanyl

Hill said a man and a woman were arrested on felony charges for the incident: 26-year-old Nicole Sanders and 50-year-old Clifford Dugan Jr. 

Dugan, who is being held without bond, is charged with one count of contributing to the "delinquency, abuse of a child" and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Sanders also received the same charge of contributing to the delinquency/abuse of a minor as well as possessing Schedule I or Schedule II narcotics.

The Amherst County superintendent said all of the students have been released from the hospital. Officials said Wednesday that their symptoms prior to receiving medical care included nausea, vomiting, headache and muscle spasms.

Fentanyl is a dangerous synthetic opioid often used to cut other substances, and an amount the size of small granules of sugar can be deadly. It's becoming an increasingly significant issue in children, as it is for adults, with more than 5,000 minors dying from fentanyl-involved overdoses in the past two decades, according to JAMA Pediatrics.


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