Ghost peppers at M-U make students ill

Superintendent say students experienced varied reactions

By Melanie Yingst -

WEST MILTON — More than 30 students at Milton-Union Middle School apparently came in contact with ghost peppers on Friday — and a few students succumbed to adverse digestive complications from the stunt, according to school officials.

Medics from Union Township and Pleasant Hill and other local first responders were dispatched to the middle school around 1 p.m. Friday. At least one student was transported to a local hospital.

Superintendent Dr. Brad Ritchey said the children came in contact with two peppers during the lunch hour unbeknownst to adults. Ritchey said students had varying reaction times and symptoms based on the level of exposure.

“Some kids just touched it, other kids just held the peppers up to their mouths and others took a big bite out of them,” Ritchey said. “Their reactions varied. Some just had their eyes water, others were generally pretty uncomfortable.”

Ritchey said the school decided to call emergency medical services when it became apparent there were many students who were involved and needed assessed. Ritchey said some children were released to their parents to seek treatment, while some students sought medical treatment at local facilities. Ritchey declined to note how many children were affected or where they were transported.

Ritchey said the district sent a One Call Now to all parents due to the number of emergency vehicles at the school at the time of the incident.

“We are not sure how many students were involved in bringing the food items to school. We are still in the process of figuring that out,” he said.

Ritchey said students may be disciplined for disrupting the school process.

A report from New Castle, Ind., reported a similar incident on Thursday. A student brought a pepper known as a Carolina Reaper to a middle school and 30 students began experiencing an intense burning sensation in their mouths, eyes and skin.

The Carolina Reaper is a hybrid pepper made initially by crossbreeding a ghost pepper and a red habanero. It has rated up to 1.57 million Scoville Heat Units (the Scoville scale is used to determine how “hot” a pepper is). By comparison, a jalapeño pepper rates anywhere from 3,500-10,000 Scoville units.

According to the New York Post, a ghost pepper rates at 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville heat units, which is 107 to 417 times hotter than a jalapeño and 10 times hotter than a habañero.

Superintendent say students experienced varied reactions

By Melanie Yingst

Reach Melanie Yingst at or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews

Reach Melanie Yingst at or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews