(05/13/2006)
By Drew Moody

Special to the Hur Herald

Three Gilmer County High School Students were transported to Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Weston Thursday after ingesting what is believed to be "Indian turnips," or the roots of a Jack-in-the-Pulpit plant.

One student was initially treated at Gilmer Primary Care, 809 Mineral Road, Glenville, then sent on to Weston.

The plant is considered to be mildly toxic (poisonous).

It contains calcium oxalate crystals which cause a mild to severe burning sensation in the mouth and throat. In some cases the throat can also swell.

The hospitalized students were treated and released.

"All the students are back in school and doing fine," Dave Bishop, assistant principal, reported Friday.

Up to 14 seventh and eighth grade students sampled the plant material about 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Most of the reactions to eating the Jack-in-the-Pulpit plant were very minor, Bishop said. School personnel immediately called 9-1-1 and three ambulances responded from Gilmer County Emergency Services.

The West Virginia Poison Control Center was contacted, and parents of all affected children were notified.

"I don't believe there was any malicious intent," Bishop said. However, the student faces disciplinary action for handing out the plant to his fellow students.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture website indicates the plant is "often" given to unsuspecting persons as a practical joke.

Bishop said an assembly was held at the school, primarily for 7th and 8th grade students, to discuss the dangers of consuming unknown substances.

Bishop described the event as "sobering" for students, as at least two of their classmates were placed on stretchers and wheeled to waiting ambulances.

Gilmer EMS Business Manager Ed Messenger said Friday three ambulances and up to nine crew members were dispatched to the high school in response to the emergency.

Messenger said school personnel were extremely cooperative; and Bishop lauded the efficient and professional job done by the EMS service.

Several plants in West Virginia are poisonous, and a few can be deadly, even if consumed in very minute quantities.

Among them are the Yew, an evergreen shrub; castor beans, water hemlock and jimson-weed.


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