Over 200 of you medical detectives correctly identified the cause of
the hemorrhagic disease in Episode One of
The Blackout Syndrome:
Here are this episode's prize winners, selected at random
from all the correct entries, and a small sample of the over 200 correct
Use your browser's
to return to our story.
Individual Winners and Their Solutions
Monique Cote, 12th grade, Presque Isle High School
Both victims drank milk from Donny Brook farms and it was unpasteurized.
Without proper refrigeration, this milk could have had bacteria or other
microorganisms growing in it. There had been a power failure earlier and
the milk could have spoiled due to the lack of refrigeration. When Troy
tried the milk, he had said that it tasted bad and so no one else in the
house drank it. The baby was also the only one to drink it in the Allinger
household. It seems to be the only link that is the same and that is linked
to just the two victims and no other members of the households.
Alex Kretschmann, 9th grade, Staples High School
Both people that were infected drank warm milk. The milk was unpasteurized
so the bacteria in the milk is still there. When milk is warm so the
bacteria in it will multiply. When the people drink it they are drinking
the bacteria. The bacteria is the problem. Everything else doesn't work.
Johnny Babin, 11th grade, East Ascension High School
Both the child and the young man had milk from Donnybrook farms. The
milk was "all natural" with no preservatives and unpasteurized. The
electricity had been off allowing bacteria to grow rapidly in the milk.
They also had to have had the same kind of milk since it was in glass
bottles which is unusual.
Jon Tang, 9th grade, Lakeside Upper School
The milk is the cause of the disease. The power went out (you can tell
because the clocks have been reset), and the whole, unhomogenized milk
grew warm. The bacteria in the milk which normally would've been kept
at a low population from the cold of the refrigerator began to multiply.
Somehow, the bacteria, passed through the cow, and the milk, caused
Katie Fuller, 11th grade, Noble and Greenough
I don't think that it is the house plant because the plant at the first
apartment could have been eaten by either the iguana or Isabella. At
the second apartment, considering Troy's age and the lack of evidence,
there's no reason to believe that Troy ate his plant.
The spider bite: there was no spider in case one, no connection.
Exterminators: they never came to the second house.
Family Pet: There was no concrete evidence that either of the pets scratched
The bloody tattoo: Isabella didn't have a tattoo.
The Hot Dog: Isabella didn't eat a hot dog.
Pizza: Troy didn't eat pizza.
Mushrooms: Although they both ate mushrooms, both the parents and Troy's
girlfriend also ate mushrooms and didn't get sick.
I believe it was the milk because both of them drank it but didn't
finish it because they didn't like it. The milk was unpasteurized and
unhomogenized making a possibility of more impurities and not lasting
as long as usual. The milk may have gone bad and that is why it may
have caused such an effect. The disease may take a little time to evolve
which is why the mother and cat did not get directly sick.
Classroom Winners and Their Solutions
10th grade class, 2nd Period, Mira Loma High School
The two kids who got the disease both drank the unpasteurized milk, which
had warmed up due to the power outage. Both milk bottles had the chance
to warm up, the power outage happened early in the day, and the milk was
consumed for dinner. Because of the organic nature of the milk, it would
have been easy for a pathogen to survive, and then multiply when the temperature
rose. None of the other possibilities were entirely similar in both cases.
Most cases, such as the spider bite, spraying for roaches, the tattoo,
the hot dogs, and the pizza were present or occurred in one household
only. The two houseplants were similar in appearance, but were different
species. And lastly, the pets were different species, and their only connection
was the girlfriend (who had handled both) but she was unaffected.
10th grade class, Florin High School
Our hypothesis is that the milk in both of the houses was contaminated
by some sort of disease that could of come about through the power outage.
The power outage spoiled the milk causing a bacteria to form in the
milk and that caused the two subjects who had consumed a small amount
to become ill.
9th grade class, Burlington High School
From the process of elimination, the milk seems to be the only factor
that the two victims have in common. Since it wasn't pasteurized, it
could have contained contaminants or organisms which could cause the
10th & 11th grade, period 5 Biology, Presque Isle High School
The milk was unpasteurized and it may have been left too long at a warmer
temperature. It was a hot day and the power was off for an undetermined
period of time. This could have given microorganisms an opportunity
to multiply. Both Isabella and Troy had drunk the milk and the milk
came from the same source, leading us to believe it was probably the
source of contamination that led to the diseases. All of the other possibilities
could be ruled out in one or more ways.
11th & 12th grades, Wickliffe High School
The power went out earlier that day. The milk was not homogenized or
pasteurized and had instructions to "Keep Refrigerated". The milk at
Isabella's house was left out and, because of the power outage, the
refrigerator warmed, causing bacteria to grow in the milk at Troy's
house. He drank the spoiled milk and then threw it out. Troy's mother
was also drinking milk but it was a new container and therefore not
infected with the excess bacteria. During dinner, Isabella's parents
drank beer, not the infected milk. Therefore we believe that the bacteria
in the milk caused the illness.
Some Other Individual Entrants and Their Solutions
Kersten Schneider, 9th grade, Staples High School
It had to have been the milk because since there was a power failure,
the milk must have gone bad, and because it was a hot summer day, it became
bad quickly. The baby drank the milk before getting symptoms, and the
boy did also. The milk was unpasteurized, which means that it was not
boiled to be rid of bacteria, and that could be the cause of the mysterious
disease. It could not have been the mushrooms because the parents of the
baby also had that pizza. No one else besides the two victims drank the
bad milk. The mother of the older boy, was drinking cold milk, which could
not have been the same milk that the boy had drank since he poured it
down the sink. It was not the exterminators because they did not come
to the second victims house. It was not the family pet, because other
than having long nails, the pets had nothing else in common. Only one
victim had a tattoo done, so it could not have been that. Since the girlfriend
of the boy ate hot dogs too, and she was not affected by the disease,
that could not have been the cause. It could not have been the pizza because
the parents of the baby also had the pizza and they did not show any symptoms.
Michael D.Volosin, 10th grade, Staples High School
It was the milk because both apartments had power outages that could
have caused the milk to go bad. The milk in both apartments were also
untreated. This could have caused a bacteria in the milk to reproduce.
The milk also came from the same dairy. The reason that the parents
and the sister didn't get the disease was because the sister was drinking
soda, the boys mom had the milk cold, and the parents of the baby had
It wasn't the mushrooms because they were cooked for the baby.
It wasn't the spiders because the mom would be infected.
It wasn't the exterminators because they were spraying for different.
things and they never showed at one house.
It wasn't the family pet because they were different.
It wasn't the hot dog because the baby didn't have any.
It wasn't the plant because the plants were different types.
It wasn't the tattoo because he didn't have contact with the baby.
It wasn't the pizza because the boy didn't have pizza.
Bobby Dietz, 10th grade, Olathe East High School
There were no other sources that matched 100% at both homes. The milk
however comes from the same supplier, isn't pasteurized or homogenized,
it also needed to be refrigerated at all times which didn't happen because
the power went out. Also both people had drunk the milk for sure.
Andrew Tucker, 9th grade, Noble and Greenough
The milk is the answer because it was unhomogenized, unpasteurized,
and has nothing added. This means that all of the bacteria wasn't filtered
out. Also the milk wasn't boiled so it didn't kill any viruses. All
of the other solutions were ruled out too, because in each situation
the agent that could have been present was either not present in both
homes. or killed.
Jeremy Grabel, 9th grade, St. Bernard High School
Because both of the families had the same type of milk in their house.
The milk being unpasteurized may have a bacterium that affects younger
people or people who have damaged immune systems.
Some Other Classroom Entrants and Their Solutions
10th grade, 3rd hour Biology class, Gladewater High School
Milk was unpasteurized. Power went off so refrigerator milk got warm,
allowed bacteria to grow. Baby and boy both drank some. Parents and girlfriend
did not. Mother of Troy drank cold milk. She has just come home from grocery
10th & 11th grade, period 7 Biology, Presque Isle High School,
Presque Isle, ME
The only thing that both cases had in common was the Donnybrook milk
and the mushrooms. The chances of the mushrooms coming from the same
source is slight, but we have proof that Isabella and Troy had the same
brand of milk. Since it was hot and the power had been off, the milk
could have warmed up and bacteria in the unpasteurized milk could have
incubated a disease-causing bacteria, giving the disease to the two
9th & 10th grade, 6th Period General Biology class, Des Lacs-Burlington
We think it is something in the milk because both Troy and Isabella
drank milk and it sounds like the milk could have come from the same
place since both came in bottles. Since the milk was unpasteurized and
unhomogenized, it possible had bacterial spores in it. We think that
since in the Allinger appartment, where the electricity was off for
a while, and at The Belindo home, where the milk was sitting out for
a while, that the bacteria grew and when Isabella and Troy drank it,
even a little bit, they were exposed to a disease causing pathogen of
some sort that caused the disease.
7th and 12th grade classes, Sandy Creek High School
The milk is the only thing that both subjects came into contact with.
It was unpasteurized and when the power went out, any microbes in the
milk would have quickly reproduced in that environment.
12th grade class, 6th period, J.J. Pearce High School
The bleeding persons syndrome was caused by a bacteria in the milk.
During the power failure that day, the refrigerator went out for awhile
(the time was long enough to make the people at the workplace go home
due to heat). While the refrigerator was out, the unhomogenized and
unpasteurized milk went bad. The milk now had bacteria growing rapidly
in the heat of the broken refrigerator. Isabella had one half cup of
her bad milk, and the teenage boy had a sip of his bad milk and then
poured it out. This is the only hint positively linking the two victims
together. Mrs. Belindo was not affected because she drank a nice cool
glass of milk, not a spoiled glass filled with bacteria.
Use your browser's
to return to our story.