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Virginia 4th graders fall ill after eating gummy bears contaminated with fentanyl

Elementary students sickened in fentanyl exposure
7 Virginia elementary students sickened in fentanyl exposure 01:32

Seven elementary school students in Amherst, Virginia, on Tuesday became ill after eating gummy bears that were in a sandwich bag that later tested positive for fentanyl, police said. Five students were taken to the hospital for medical attention but have since recovered, officials said.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the incident, Lt. Dallas Hill of the Amherst County Sheriff's Office said during a news conference on Wednesday.

One of the fourth graders brought the gummy bears from home to share with students at Central Elementary School. Emergency services were notified after the students fell ill and went to the nurse's office. The sheriff's office believes the incident was unintentional.

The candies were tested but it was the sandwich bag itself that came back positive for fentanyl, according to a statement from the Amherst County Sheriff's Office.

Clifford Dugan, Jr., and Nicole Sanders have both been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, while Sanders faces an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance, Hill said. Dugan also faces a separate charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and is being held with no bond.

At the news conference on Wednesday, Amherst School Superintendent William Wells said that officials believed the contamination occurred either at home or on the way to school. The students exposed showed symptoms that included nausea, vomiting, headaches and muscle spasms.

All of the children have fully recovered and "all the parents indicate they are doing well today," confirmed Wells. The investigation is ongoing and police are tying to determine who else may have come in contact with the bag at school.

The school has also been cleaned since the incident and this not considered a hazmat situation, Wells said. The superintendent emphasized that fentanyl has become a "community issue," and that schools cannot "suspend their way out of" being impacted by the deadly drug.

In September, a baby died at a Bronx daycare in New York City after coming into contact with the fentanyl. Several people have been arrested and charged with operating a drug ring out of the daycare after authorities found large quantities of narcotics hidden under the floor boards.

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