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Ark. health clinic evacuated after illnesses

/ Source: The Associated Press

A state-affiliated health clinic in northwestern Arkansas was evacuated on Thursday after more than 30 people were sickened with symptoms including nausea, dizziness and in some cases, uncontrollable drooling.

None of the 31 people sickened at the Washington County Health Unit in Fayetteville, including two patients, were considered to be in life-threatening condition, health officials said. All but six of those sickened were treated and released from area hospitals by Thursday afternoon.

A hazardous materials unit from the National Guard base at Camp Robinson was sent to the clinic to run tests, Arkansas Department of Health spokeswoman Ann Wright said.

Health officials were looking into whether the outbreak might be related to an exterminator’s visit to the clinic this week.

“We always have to hold out the possibility that someone brought something in,” said John Gibson, county administrator. “I would hope that’s not the case. The Health Department is a pretty benign organization that helps people. We’ve never received any threats, but you have to hold out all possibilities.”

The clinic in Fayetteville, about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock, offers health education and various services, including vaccinations.