Hospital employees, Jackson family affected by mystery chemical

Contamination might be linked to a stray dog

bestep1@herald-leader.comNovember 29, 2011 

Several people, including hospital employees, were decontaminated Sunday evening at Saint Joseph Hospital in London after experiencing problems that might have been related to a chemical on a stray dog, according to authorities.

The illnesses happened after two people from Jackson County came to the emergency room complaining of symptoms including eye and throat irritation, a cough and a burning sensation to the skin, according to Albert Hale, director of emergency management for Laurel County.

While treating the people, a doctor and three other emergency-room workers began to experience similar symptoms, according to a news release from Laurel County Sheriff John Root.

Workers showered the two people from Jackson County, three relatives who came with them, and the emergency-room employees to get rid of any possible chemical contamination, authorities said.

The people recovered quickly, Hale said.

Hale said the couple from Jackson County had contact earlier in the day with a stray dog.

It's possible someone had doused the dog with pepper spray to run it off, or that it had come into contact with some chemical that caused the symptoms people experienced, Hale said.

Officials might not be able to confirm whether a chemical on the dog caused the problems. However, Hale said he saw nothing else at the house in Jackson County that would have caused the reactions.

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