Residents in Oregon are falling ill from a bizarre and worrying hallucination illness that appears to spread via direct contact with other people.
At least five people have been taken to the Bay Area Hospital so far, in what appears to be the first recorded case of a contagious person-to-person hallucination illness.
KVAL-TV News reported Wednesday that authorities have not yet pinpointed what caused the mysterious episodes, but they believe it was something spread by direct contact.
The bizarre incident began around 3 a.m. Wednesday when the elderly woman’s caregiver, a 52-year-old woman, called authorities to say people were vandalizing her car.
A deputy responded to the home, on East Bay Road in North Bend, but found nothing. The caregiver called back at 5:30 a.m. and was then taken to Bay Area Hospital after deputies suspected the woman might be having a medical issues causing hallucinations.
Medical personnel checked her, she appeared fine and returned home.
Then the two deputies who worked with the caregiver began having hallucinations and had to be hospitalized. After that, the 78-year-old woman and a hospital employee started showing similar symptoms and had to be hospitalized as well.
The Coos County Haz Mat Team responded to Bay Area Hospital and the residence on East Bay Road. The team cleared the emergency room and began decontaminating vehicles and equipment.
Everyone involved was quarantined while an investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the hallucinations – but nothing was found in the emergency room or the home on East Bay Road. Blood samples revealed nothing unusual.
“No source of contaminate has been identified or found,” Sgt. Pat Downing of the Coos County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
Although authorities have not yet pinpointed what caused the episodes, they believe it was something spread by direct contact. The sheriff’s department says one possibility is a medicated patch.
The emergency room quarantine was lifted after it was cleared and found to be safe.
Both deputies were treated and released from the hospital. The caregiver and her 78-year-old female client are still under care at the hospital.
The investigation continues.