Skip to main content

'Mass psychogenic illness' considered at school where 30 sickened


A medical phenomenon in which a number of people show real illness symptoms when no real cause exists is now suspected at the school in Springfield, Minnesota, where 30 went to the hospital Thursday, FOX 9 reports.

FOX reports the state health department says it was a case of "mass psychogenic illness" at the K-12 public school building – a mass reaction when lots of people in a shared space end up sick without a specific cause, except the fact that everyone in the group shares the same belief about the cause, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Despite the FOX report, health department spokesman Scott Smith told BringMeTheNews Friday morning it was too premature to definitively say the event was mass psychogenic illness.

"It's a possibility that is being considered, but the investigation is still ongoing," he said.

Carbon monoxide was initially suspected at the Springfield school Thursday morning after some elementary school students got sick in an auditorium during a choir rehearsal. Several students were promptly taken to the hospital and the school's 600 students were evacuated.

By the end of the day, 30 students had been treated and released at the hospital, a Mayo health facility in Springfield, after they suffered symptoms including nausea and headaches – common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Mankato Free Press initially had reported lab tests indicated some patients had higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood. But hospital Administrator Scott Thoreson on Friday told the Free Press that more thorough lab tests indicated normal levels.

And in fact, the Free Press and New Ulm Journal reported that officials detected no carbon monoxide in the school building during the day Thursday and Friday.

School was canceled for students Friday as the investigation continued.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Cure to Vikings' disrupted season lies in an explosive passing game

The Vikings go to San Francisco knowing that a win would be a huge boost to their playoff hopes.

unsplash football helmet ground

Judge upholds star QBs suspension for state championship game

Sam Backer, of Chatfield Senior High, won't be allowed to play in Friday's title game.

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 7.53.37 AM

Another 5,000 lbs. of goldfish removed from Carver County lakes

It all likely stemmed from people dumping their pets into local waters a few years ago.

Rosaleia Shelton

Appeal to find 19-year-old missing from Bloomington

The teen left her home on Monday afternoon.

hospital, emergency room

Deaths of twin fetuses after woman was shot ruled a double homicide

The woman was shot in the abdomen in mid-September.