Mystery ailment at Farmington call center sickens 130

Thursday, May 3, 2007

FARMINGTON, Mo. (AP) -- Investigators continue to look into what caused about 130 employees of an eastern Missouri call center to become ill.

All 338 workers on duty at ACCENT Marketing Services in Farmington were evacuated Wednesday afternoon, and 130 were taken to hospitals, some in school buses, complaining of breathing troubles and irritation to their eyes. The center handles customer calls for Sprint Nextel Corp.

Most were treated and released, though three workers were admitted to hospitals. Investigators suspect contamination in the building's ventilation system.

Kevin Thurman, spokesman for Mineral Area Regional Medical Center, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that workers complained of burning sensations to their eyes and airways, "and some even had a numb face, numb tongue and dizziness."

ACCENT spokeswoman Stacy Spradling said she didn't know when employees would return to work. ACCENT, based in Jeffersonville, Ind., opened its Farmington center in March 2006.

Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said the air-conditioning system was serviced Wednesday morning. He said investigators would examine filters from the system.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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