Prince George's County school officials issued letters of warning to children in a Laurel public school yesterday after one Laurel Junior High School student was hospitalized and another treated for jimson weed poisoning, school officials said.
School spokeswoman JoAnn Bonner said the school system was attempting yesterday to ascertain whether any other student had ingested the poisonous plant, which grows wild in the Washington area and has a reputation of having hallucenogenic properties.
Bonner said the jimson weed poisons were discovered after one student was hospitalized Monday after ingesting the plant and the other was treated for jimson weed poisoning Tuesday. The school's principal discovered that a student had brought jimson plant seeds to school on Monday and distributed them to those two students and 17 others.
The school spokeswoman said disciplinary action is being considered for all those students who accepted the substance. Bonner said the school superintendent has also instructed his school grounds staff to check all county schools and remove any jimson plants growing on school property.
Jimson weed - or loco weed as it is often called - produces symptoms including high fever, nausea, disorientation, and vomiting, a school spokesman said.
County health department spokesman, George Kolarik. said the Washington area has experienced outbreaks of jimson weed use in the past including several cases last year in Anne Arundel County. He said incidents involving consumption of the plant usually occur in the carly fall when its seeds appear.
Spokesman, Kolarik said the plant, which has prickly fruit and white and purplish trumpet-shaped flowers, is described as smelling extremely foul.
School officials said they plan to warn parents in the Laurel area about the danger of Jimson weed poisoning and to warn students not to consume any part of the plant.