Last week, school administrators at the LeRoy Central School District in northwestern New York state approved a plan that will allow further testing at the town’s high school, where a total of 19 people, 18 girls and one boy, developed a sudden-onset disorder with symptoms similar to Tourette’s syndrome
Many of the infected patients claim that the symptoms appeared out of nowhere. They developed uncontrollable movements and vocalizations, which could be dramatic like arms twitching, jolting to one side, speech chopped up with nonsense utterings, head jerkings and bizarre eye blinking. Blackouts and seizures were also reported. The first cases appeared in May of last year. The second happened in September and by the end of October, eight students were affected.
Health officials from New York state have been investigating the outbreak ever since. However, no cause has yet been found. There were no abnormal levels in air-quality tests. Eight of the girls were diagnosed with mass hysteria. The conversion disorder usually manifests in people who are in close contact with each other, thanks to a trigger. The sickness seems organic in nature, but investigations have yet to find a physical cause.
It doesn’t appear to be an infection, at least not one that officials have been able to detect. There was a spill back in December 1970 3.47 miles from the school that dumped one tonne of cyanide crystals and 114,000 liters of the industrial solvent trichloroethene (TCE) but this doesn’t seem to be implicated in the outbreak.
Some of the ones affected by this mystery outbreak have now recovered, so the school is continuing its testing to determine the exact nature of the outbreak.