Kentucky boy dies after eating strawberries from school fundraisers, police say

(NewsNation) — A Kentucky boy has died after eating a bunch of strawberries that were purchased from a school fundraiser, according to police.

The Madisonville Police Department said they were contacted Friday around 6:30 a.m. about an 8-year-old boy who wasn't breathing and unresponsive in his home, NewsNation affiliate WEHT reported.

Officers who responded to the home discovered the family had taken the boy to the emergency room the night before.

The boy's family said the episode began Thursday night when he ate several strawberries bought from a school fundraiser, according to police. He showed signs of an allergic reaction, which primarily appeared as a rash. The family gave the boy Benadryl and soaked him in a bath.

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However, when the symptoms didn't stop, they took the boy to the emergency room at about 10:30 p.m. The family left the emergency room at 1:24 a.m. and returned home. The 8-year-old changed his clothes and went to bed.

The next morning, the family found the boy unresponsive, and he was taken to the medical examiner's office to undergo an autopsy, police said. The final report and toxicology results are pending.

While detectives were investigating in the emergency room, several staff members mentioned others had come in for treatment after eating strawberries believed to be from the same fundraiser, police said.

Medical officials suspect this is an "isolated incident."

"It appears there was an isolated incident potentially linked to an allergy to strawberries in Hopkins County. We do not have anyone admitted to our service at this time we believe is linked to this situation. We do encourage everyone to follow the Hopkins County Health Department for additional information and direction as it becomes available," Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville Hospital said.

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However, ongoing tests are being conducted on the strawberries to confirm whether there were any other factors contributing to the boy's death.

"Everything right now points to an allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock," said Maj. Jason McKnight, of the Madisonville Police Department. "But again, this is all preliminary. An autopsy was just performed today, and those final results won't be available for several weeks, if not months."

As a precaution, the Hopkins County Health Department and the Hopkins County Board of Education were notified of the situation, and a warning was issued until more details could be identified as possible causes.

According to the New York Allergy & Sinus Center, one study showed around 3% to 4% of children aged 2 and under were allergic to strawberries. The percentage dropped below 1% later in childhood and adulthood.

The Hopkins County Health Department warned the public not to eat strawberries purchased from the school fundraiser for Madisonville North Hopkins High School and Hopkins County Central High School.

NewsNation affiliate WEHT contributed to this report.

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