A wave of hysteria swept through Good Hope School in Inyathi, Matabeleland North, last week when several learners, primarily girls, began experiencing intense itching sensations and unexplained behaviour.
The unsettling incident prompted school authorities to convene an emergency meeting with parents to seek solutions to this perplexing situation.
Sources close to the matter revealed that the affected learners were taken to a nearby clinic for examination, but no definitive diagnosis could be established.
“We’re facing a real dilemma. The students at Good Hope were incessantly scratching their bodies, complaining of relentless itching,” a source stated. “The girls were particularly affected. When we took them to the clinic, they couldn’t identify any underlying cause. We’re at a loss for what to do.”
The source expressed an urgent need for assistance, emphasising the distress experienced by the affected children. “Some students were already screaming before even reaching the school premises,” they added.
Another concerned parent recounted her child’s ordeal, describing bloodshot eyes and a sudden onset of symptoms.
“When my daughter arrived home, she was crying uncontrollably. I initially thought they had a quarrel. Her eyes were bloodshot red, and even her mouth appeared to be bleeding. I resorted to some traditional remedies, which provided temporary relief. However, the same symptoms soon emerged in my son, who ultimately required hospitalisation. Words fail to capture the severity of the situation.”
Ward 23 Councilor Miller Mlilo confirmed the incident, highlighting the clinic’s inability to pinpoint a medical cause. “The clinic couldn’t find anything wrong with the learners. They didn’t even have a rash or any other visible symptoms besides the incessant scratching,” he explained.
Taungana Ndoro, Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, acknowledged the incident and outlined the steps being taken to address it.
“The Ministry is aware of the situation and is collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, who visited the school and examined the learners. Initial findings suggest no underlying medical condition,” he stated.
“The school was advised to involve the community through the School Development Committee (SDC) and traditional leadership, which they have done. The Ministry continues to provide psychosocial support to the affected learners,” he concluded.