Pupils have fallen seriously ill after drinking potentially fatal “vaping fluid” at a Highland school.
The rector of Dingwall Academy has written to parents and carers following a number of incidents this week.
It is understood one pupil was taken to hospital by ambulance, with one councillor claiming a student had been left in a “paralysed state”.
The school has involved police and NHS Highland health protection experts, with pupils being warned of the dangers of drinking the toxic contents of cigarette substitutes.
The letter gives students a checklist of what to do if they believe someone has ingested the potentially lethal cocktail of chemicals which can cause breathing difficulties, fitting – and even death.
The letter, sent out by rector Karen Cormack, reads: “We have had to deal with a small number of incidents over the last couple of days where pupils have become seriously ill in school.
“We believe that the illnesses may have been caused by individuals drinking vaping fluid, which is highly dangerous.
“We have spoken to pupils at assemblies and have sought further advice from the police and NHS Highland.”
Dr Jenny Wares, consultant in health protection at NHS Highland, said, when ingested, the contents of the fluid from within electronic cigarettes are highly toxic and can be fatal.
She added: “The main risk of toxicity is from the nicotine content although there is a risk of toxicity from other ingredients within the fluid.”
“If you have any concerns that an individual has ingested fluid from an electronic cigarette seek immediate medical attention by calling 999 and don’t leave the person alone.
“There are a wide range of possible symptoms including nausea and vomiting, confusion, agitation and headaches, dizziness, excessive sweating, breathing difficulties, altered heart rate and possible fitting.
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“Given the seriousness of this situation please ensure this information is shared with your children, young people and their friends.”
Alarmed councillors have praised the actions of the school in attempting to combat the issue, but admitted they are shocked at the situation.
Councillor Graham Mackenzie, a former rector at the school, said: “Parents and carers have to be aware of these dangers. I congratulated the head teacher in highlighting this problem and hope it deals with what is happening there.”
Councillor Angela MacLean added: “I am quite shocked by this. It is very worrying. One pupil was taken to hospital in a paralysed state.
“But I am encouraged by the reaction of the school rector.”
Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: “I am very saddened to hear this but I have every faith in rector Karen Cormack and her staff at Dingwall Academy who are looking into the matter.
“There is a good working relationship between the Academy and Police Scotland in Dingwall and I am hopeful we can get to the bottom of this.
“I can’t emphasise enough the faith we have in Karen and her staff and the relationship that exists with police in Dingwall, and I believe this is key to getting to the bottom of it.
“We all as parents have a responsibility here to work with the school and report anything untoward or suspicious immediately.
“I hope this major problem is eradicated very quickly.”
Police confirmed they are aware of the situation.