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First Mysterious Rash, Now Dangerous Mold

The search for the cause of a mysterious rash that has plagued the Dongola School since early January leads district leaders to a frightening discovery. Tests done inside the Union County School building Friday revealed the presence of Stachybotrys, or black mold, a potentially dangerous growth that can cause breathing and other health problems.

District leaders revealed the black mold findings at a special board meeting Monday night, then announced the building will be shut down until further notice. Mead Environmental of Cape Girardeau found traces of black mold inside several of the classrooms in Dongola's new elementary wing. It also turned up in the cafeteria and the building's old gymnasium.

Several students and a few teachers began complaining of an itching, burning skin rash back on January sixth. District leaders closed down the building on several occasions, quarantined the fifth and sixth grade classrooms, and even brought in the Environmental Protection Agency to run air tests. The EPA did not find any chemical or other substance that would cause a skin rash. The district brought in Mead Environmental Friday to run mold tests while the building was closed because of bad weather. The school board will meet in special session Tuesday night to discuss how the building will be cleaned and when it will be re-opened.

Stachybotrys, commonly known as black mold or toxic mold, is one of the most dangerous types of mold. A biologist in the Heartland says stachybotrys "can possibly" lead to skin irriations or rashes.

But it's not yet certain if it's causing some students in Dongola to break out in a rash.

We do know stachybotrys can cause mild symptoms like nasal stuffiness, eye irritations, or wheezing. More severe reactions can be a fever or shortness of breath. People with chronic lung illnesses could develop mold infections in their lungs. For some there are no problems at all. But people with asthma or weakened respiratory systems are especially at risk.

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