4 New Hampshire hospital workers fall ill after exposure to unidentified white powder in ER

Six people fell ill Thursday morning at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H., after a bag of white powder was ripped open during a struggle between police and a man under arrest in the emergency department, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Authorities said Theodore Macenas was arrested early Thursday morning on a domestic charge and appeared to be under the influence of drugs during the booking process. He was taken to the hospital after requesting medical treatment.

A police officer guarded Mr. Macenas while he waited to be treated at Elliot Hospital. The officer realized Mr. Macenas was concealing drugs on his body when he took him into the bathroom at approximately 9:30 a.m.

"The officer struggled with Macenas as he attempted to swallow the unknown powdery substance," police said in a statement, according to the Union Leader. "The struggle caused a tear in the plastic bag, which caused the powdery substance to contaminate the floor of the bathroom and the adjacent hallway. A second officer assigned to the hospital detail helped the officer subdue the combative man."

After the incident, two police officers, a nurse, a physician, a hospital security guard and a nursing student complained of nausea, headaches, rapid heartbeat and other symptoms.

Firefighters in hazardous material suits decontaminated the bathroom where the incident occurred and an adjacent hallway, treating the powdery substance as if it were heroin or fentanyl. A lab is testing the substance to determine its content. 

All six of the individuals exposed to the substance were discharged from the hospital by Thursday afternoon, according to the report.

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