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Students Suffer in Genesee’s Leroy School Mystery Illness
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The spreading tics and nervous syndrome illness found in a cluster of students in Genesee County community’s LeRoy School is making headlines and drawing speculations from all corners of the country.

Recent entrants into the fray include environmental activists like Erin Brokovich and Lois Gibbs and doctors ranging from psychological disorder specialists to neurological disorder experts.

The story was mostly under wraps until one of the suffering students and her mother attended the NBC’s Today show. Then it blasted across news networks and went viral.


The case involves around 15 LeRoy Junior-Senior High School students who are displaying symptoms of nervous ticks and behavior akin to Tourette’s syndrome. The cause of the disease and formation of the cluster is yet to be ascertained, but many attribute that negligence in maintaining environmental norms and safety rules at the large number of gas wells owned by LeRoy school cannot be ruled out.

Since in addition to nervous tics, faints and seizures are also common in the suffering students, the possibility of contamination of the environment by hazardous materials is possible. LeRoy School owns five natural gas wells, and there are questions being raised about the probabilities of on-site processing and environment contamination, though this has been ruled out by the authorities.

In fact, a chapter of the Sierra Club is investigating the connection between natural gas drilling at LeRoy school and the mysterious illness of the school students. The Empire State Consumer Project and The Healthy Schools Network are also aiding the investigation.

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Sympathizers are of the opinion that the authorities have been too hasty in excluding environmental contaminants as a possible cause of the illness. Also infectious illnesses and vaccinations have not been properly considered in the list of possible causes.

Reports and speculations from doctors are still vague in nature though everyone seems to agree that these are psychological disorders subconsciously affecting other students and manifest in physical symptoms. The authorities, at least , agree on this. What nobody seems to be considering are whether these are physically induced disorders having psychological symptoms.

Beth Miller, who went to the NBC show with her daughter Katie refuses to accept such vague speculations. It is reported that in September, 16-year old Katie suffered so heavily from tics that she had to be admitted to medical emergency facilities by an ambulance.

Though the Rochester and Buffalo television stations have been covering the incident from early November, there has been little progress in reducing the suffering of the students or in checking the slowly growing cluster of students falling prey to the syndrome.

The war of opinions keeps growing with Buffalo doctors who had seen the children calling it ‘conversion disorder’ and ‘psychogenic illness,’ while some other doctors attribute reactions of the immune system to streptococcus infection.

Whatever is the cause of the illness, as expressed by Claire Barnett, executive director of the Healthy Schools Network, “Right now you have a cluster of sick kids, and nobody’s quite sure what’s going on.”


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