HUFFINGTON POST
02/08/2012 10:48 am ET Updated Feb 08, 2012

LeRoy Mystery Illness Symptoms May Be Spreading Through Social Media

The search for answers continues in the LeRoy High School mystery illness case, and one expert's new hypothesis proposes that symptoms may be spreading through social media.

Currently, over a dozen teen girls and one adult in New York have reported experiencing the same Tourette's-like symptoms of twtiching, tics, and uncontrollable verbal outbursts. With the case now generating a great deal of media attention and public interest, some of the teens affected have been posting videos of their symptoms on YouTube, Facebook and other social networking channels.

University at Buffalo neurology professor Dr. David Lichter suggests that the spread of the symptoms may be caused by students unconsciously mimicking symptoms that they've seen in videos uploaded onto social media sites, WKBW News reports.

Lichter told WKBW: "I think you do have the potential for people going online and witnessing other student's behavior, then I think this medium has the potential to spread it beyond the immediate environment."

Thus far, the illness has been diagnosed as conversion disorder (formerly known as "mass hysteria"), which is the physical expression of psychological stress.

Angry and confused LeRoy parents gathered at a public meeting this weekend to demand answers about whether the school is safe. After extensive testing, the school district reported finding no environmental cause for the symptoms. Results of the testing have all come back negative. A team of environmentalists, led by Erin Brockovich, are testing soil samples to see if the illness could be related to a chemical spill from a train wreck near the school years earlier.

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