It sounds like something from a B-grade movie. An emergency room in Coos Bay, Oregon was recently placed in quarantine after five people – including two police officers, began to hallucinate after coming into contact with a woman who claimed her car was being vandalized – although there is no evidence that it was.
The strange saga began in the early morning hours of Wednesday October 12th after Coos County Police answered a call about vandalism by a 57-year-old caregiver who reported that eight people were trying to remove her car roof. They found nothing, but were called back at around 5:30 am when the woman claimed a similar incident had taken place.
Finding nothing to support her claims, they suspected the woman was hallucinating. She was taken to the local Bay Area Hospital where her mental state evaluated. She was found to be mentally fit and released. But before long, the two police officers who had responded to the scene, the 78-year-old woman who was being cared for, and a hospital worker, all appeared to exhibit hallucinations including nausea, lightheadedness and euphoria. Those affected were hospitalized and a Hazardous Materials response team placed the emergency room in quarantine.
A search of the elderly woman’s home was unremarkable except for several fentanyl patches which contain opioids to control pain. Reports indicate that the responding HazMat team had initially suspected the patches to be the cause, but authorities later ruled out the possibility. According to KVAL TV in Eugene, Sgt. Pat Downing announced that blood samples were unremarkable and the source of the contamination remained a mystery. It may be significant that authorities believed the symptoms were spread by touch and not through the air.
The Coos County Sheriff’s Office released this statement: “Initial investigations believed that a medication used in patch form may have been the source. Investigation has found that all those patches and potential medications that may have caused the symptoms have been accounted for.” It also stated that “The vehicles, equipment and uniforms have been checked with no contaminates identified or located on or about them.”