Officials announce cause in Father Judge HS health scare

NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA - December 21, 2011

Investigators believe a defective metal halide bulb in the ceiling of the gymnasium was the culprit. Dozens of people left a cheerleading competition complaining of skin and eye irritation.

A cheerleading competition was held at the school on Sunday December 4th, and some who attended began having symptoms shortly after arriving - others fell ill later in the evening. As many as 50 people had taken themselves to area hospitals for treatment.

The health scare prompted the closure of Father Judge for the better part of a week as officials with the Department of Public Health conducted extensive tests to determine the cause of the eye irritation.

Angela Milio described the sensation, telling Action News, "I don't know how to explain the feeling, but it felt like [my eyes] were on fire."

Milio's eyes were red and swollen at the time of her interview with Action News the next day. She and her daughter, Paige, had been putting warm compresses on their eyes, trying to flush whatever had been burning them since they left Father Judge High School Sunday afternoon.

Angela said, "When we were at the gym they were just burning and they just kept watering."

Paige Milio explained, "I blinked once, we got in the car and I couldn't open my eyes. And when I did it looked like I was crying for hours."

The good news is that there are no lasting health or vision effects from this type of UV-light injury.

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