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Mouse droppings may be to blame for mysterious skin rash outbreak

Parents at Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Central Falls are being asked to check their children for a possible skin rash after 16 students and two teachers reported having symptoms. (WJAR)

Parents at Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Central Falls are being asked to check their children for a possible skin rash after 16 students and two teachers reported having symptoms.

“I checked her body and I was looking for any type of bumps or something on her, but she’s fine,” Jamie Perez, a parent, told NBC 10 News on Thursday.

Central Falls Superintendent Victor Capellan said school officials don’t know what’s causing the rash. They believe whatever it was likely came from three classrooms in the lower level of the building.

“(It’s a) small rash in the arms,” Capellan told NBC 10. “A couple of them have had a small rash in the side of the face, and redness really in face and redness and itchiness in sort of the neck area.”

Capellan also said a third-grade teacher first reported having a rash last week and believed it happened at the school. While she left for the day and began feeling better, the rash returned within an hour after she came back to school.

Capellan described it as a type of a rash that is red in color.

“They say that it’s itchy and that it feels warm,” he said.

Capellan went on to say that 14 of the 16 students who experienced the rash have class in the lower level of the building. The three classrooms on that level are now off-limits while cleaning crews disinfect them.

Mouse droppings were previously found at the school, most recently in January. An exterminator was at the school on Thursday, with Capellan saying mouse droppings were found in a lower level classroom.

"The droppings were in a bag that contained food and seem as if the mice had eaten through a plastic bag to get to the food that was in the bag," he told NBC 10.

The Department of Health is working with school officials to investigative if there’s a public health risk.

Parents are understandably concerned.

“I’m worried because they don’t know what’s causing the rash,” Milsa Jimenez of Central Falls, a parent, told NBC 10 in Spanish.

Capellan said the rash doesn't appear to be contagious, but he advised parents to be on the lookout.

“We want the parents to check the students, to let us know if they see any rash or any other type of allergic reaction that is out of the normal for their child, to report it to the school nurse immediately,” he said.

The students who were in the basement classrooms have been temporarily relocated to the library.

Meanwhile, the school plans to do an air quality test starting Friday.

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