The red-hot chili pepper challenge apparently found its way to a middle school in Ohio.
About 40 students at Milton-Union Middle School in West Milton, Ohio, received medical treatment and five were hospitalized after ingesting Bhut Jolokia peppers — one of the hottest species in the world. An anonymous student brought the peppers and distributed them among dozens of students aged between 11 and 14.
The incident happened during recess. The school administration called West Milton police and an emergency crew after a 13-year-old broke out into hives and had trouble seeing. Other students showed symptoms like blotchy skin, watering eyes, heavy sweating, vomiting and general discomfort, according to the Dayton Daily News.
The pepper, known as “ghost pepper” or Bhut Jolokia, has a Scoville rating of over 1 million units in comparison to 8,000 held by Tabasco sauce. In fact, it was declared as the world’s hottest in 2007, but since then, has been taken over by other varieties.
Cody Schmidt, an eighth-grader who also ate the peppers, said they were “really hot.”
“We all drank like 10 cartons of milk,” Schmidt said, noting that he started getting nervous when others who had taken the pepper got sick.
The police concluded that all students took the peppers voluntarily.
The active ingredients in the pepper, called capsaicin, is an irritant to mammals and can cause a burning sensation when it meets flesh. It can also cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract if taken in large doses.
Pam Bucaro, a clinical nurse specialist in the emergency room at Dayton Children’s Hospital, said the biggest concern about eating the chilies is for kids who have asthma, or if the oils from the pepper reach their eyes or skin.
“Kids will be kids, and sometimes they do challenges and dare each other to do things. These are not games and there can be serious effects when ingesting things,” she added.
Otherwise, using an antacid and washing the hands with soap will do the trick.