ambulance workers
Around 3 AM on Wednesday October 12th officers in North Bend, Oregon were dispatched to help a local woman who was complaining of strangers vandalizing her car. The policemen arrived on the scene, and, much to their confusion, found no evidence or signs of vandalism whatsoever. So they left, puzzled.

At 5:30 AM they got another call from the same residence, and returned to East Bay Road to investigate again. But this time they met the woman, a 57-year old caretaker, and discovered that she was suffering from hallucinations. They immediately took her to the Bay Area Hospital.

But after only a short time she was declared healthy and OKAY, her system tested clean and she was discharged from the hospital. No harm no foul, right?

Not necessarily. This strange case gets even weirder, because after the caretaker was sent home, the two deputies who'd picked her up that morning began suffering from similar symptoms - namely, hallucinations - then the 78-year-old for whom the caretaker care-took, was hospitalized for the same thing. And finally, one of the nurses who'd been attending to the caretaker at the hospital came down with the same mysterious case of hallucinations...

The sickness was spreading, whatever it was, and it seemed to be passed along through direct contact.

The Coos County HAZMAT team descended upon the hospital, and everyone involved was quarantined. Equipment was sterilized, uniforms washed, and vehicles and hospital rooms were examined and studied in an effort to identify some kind of source.

But that's the thing: they haven't yet. Medical personnel checked blood samples from the quarantined individuals, and found nothing. The HAZMAT team concluded a search of the house where the caretaker was staying, and found nothing. All items and medications that could have caused the symptoms have been checked and ruled out. For a short while, investigators believed that a medication used in a skin patch was the mysterious culprit, but alas, this theory was recently also discounted. The enigma perseveres.

All patients (cops and hospital personnel included) who have fallen victim to the weird and inexplicable outburst of psychedelic sickness are responding to treatment well, according to Sgt. Pat Downing of the local police force. And will likely recover fully. But only time will tell - this is the first case of its kind, and without prior experience, not even the most qualified expert could predict what symptoms might still manifest.

This whole event is eerily reminiscent of Steven King's famous novel, The Stand. In which, a top-secret government lab experiences a catastrophic failure, and a chemically engineered biological virus weapon is released on Earth, accidentally, to wreak havoc and fuel chaos. The US government tries very hard to cover up their mistake and enforce law and order by (unsurprisingly) lying to the public, and keeping important information secret. Right up until the great collapse.

I'm not saying that these hallucinogenic infections will spiral into the end of the world. But it is strange that despite days of studying and testing this unknown malady, experts are still scratching their heads worriedly. And that's not good news, no matter where the bug came from: if it is a totally natural, never-before-seen strain of virus or bacteria, which spreads easily through contact and induces intense hallucinations, then we have encountered an entirely new microbial enemy. If it is a government-engineered psychedelic-bug that somehow escaped or was released from a lab somewhere in Oregon, then we have even greater worries...

These are strange days. Hopefully more information will be released soon, and investigators will get to the bottom of this uncanny mystery. As of now, the quarantine on the hospital has been ended, the officers have been discharged from hospital care, and the caretaker and elderly person are still being held for observation.

How the HAZMAT team, and police deal with this story in the aftermath will surely say something about the nature of the illness. Transparency is key. If the whole incident is swept under the rug and never again discussed, there will be reason to suspect foul-play. If investigators come up with some desultory fictional narrative to explain the outbreak, it should be easy enough to tell (bullshit smells just like you'd imagine). But if they are totally open and transparent (which is unlikely in my opinion) maybe we'll actually find out what happened here.