Health officials announce what caused the illness of 24 students at Petree Primary School in Winston-Salem


WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Health officials in Forsyth County released Friday their findings on the cause of what made 24 students at Petree Elementary School ill Wednesday.

Forsyth County Relief was summoned to the school located at 3815 Old Greensboro Road shortly after 12:30 pm in response to a report of sick children vomiting.

Twenty-four students and at least one adult became ill, according to Brent Campbell, spokesperson for Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools.

After testing, Forsyth County's Department of Public Health stated that the diseases were not caused by an infectious disease, a foodborne illness or an agent suspended in the air .

Instead, health officials determined that students became ill by combining:

  • Students drink an undiluted, fruit-flavored liquid concentrate that does not comply with package directions.
  • Students consume large quantities of acidic, hot and spicy hot potato products, unaccompanied by other foods or drinks.
  • Vomiting and / or sympathetic nausea caused by the sight, smell or sound of other students who are vomiting.
  • A combination of poor hand hygiene and sharing of food and liquids between several students and classes.

Public health officials said the concentrated fruit-flavored liquid had been brought from their homes. The hot and spicy chips were bought at school and brought home students' homes. Students who drank concentrated undiluted liquid did so in different ways, including from the palms of their hands, directly from their meal trays using straws, food, their fingers or directly from the bottle.



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