Principal faults smelly plant as stench sickens school kids
WAIMEA, Kauai » Kona winds and the wild spider flower weed, or ponohino iliohu, are being blamed for a pungent odor that sickened about two dozen elementary school students at Waimea Canyon Elementary and Intermediate School yesterday.
Principal Glenda Miyazaki said up to two dozen students reported being sick, and were sent home with parents. Three elementary school classes were also moved to the library, which has air conditioning, and the cafeteria, which is away from the affected area.
Public officials, including Kauai police and fire and the state Department of Agriculture, responded and tracked the odor to the weed in a neighboring field, Miyazaki said. She said the landowner has been willing to help cut down the offending plant when the area dries. Kona winds brought some heavy rains to the area Monday night, which might have exacerbated the problem.
Miyazaki, who has been at the school for two years, said she asked around but that no one had heard of the wild spider flower troubling the school before. Classes were scheduled to resume this morning.
"Hopefully, the winds will turn," she said. "We'll work (it out) according to how the winds are."
Fire officials said yesterday they were still uncertain whether the weeds sickened the children, and state officials were trying to determine the cause.