No Connection Between Saratoga and Le Roy Illnesses, New York Health Department Says

A connection has been ruled out between similar illnesses seen in Saratoga and Le Roy New York. A growing number of people, mostly teenage girls, have been plagued with a series of symptoms that present similar to Tourette’s.

While 19 people have experienced a similar set of symptoms—18 Le Roy Central School students and one woman—the State Department of Health told the Albany Times that two girls from Saratoga County are not related to the Le Roy phenomenon, wrote The Daily News.

As we’ve written, the two girls from Corinth, located in Saratoga County, exhibit similar symptoms. Lori Brownwell and Alycia Nicholson, suffer from twitching, convulsions, and joint pain. ‘‘The Corinth cases are not connected to the girls in Le Roy with tic-like symptoms,’’ Jeffrey Hammond, a Health Department spokesman, told the Times-Union.

The mystery illness has plagued a number of students and a 36-year-old woman and manifests in tics and other Tourette’s-like symptoms. The phenomena caught national attention and the attention of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which recently offered a second opinion to a diagnosis provided by Dr. Mechtler who has seen nine girls and one boy. Dr. Mechtler diagnosed the teens with Conversion Disorder, which, as a group, is known as mass psychogenic illness. Many disagree with the diagnosis.

The Le Roy Central School District continues with environmental testing, said The Daily News and the state Department of Health initiated an investigation after the Genesee County Health Department advised it of the matter. The Department released an interim report last month that concluded the illnesses are not contagious, said The Daily News.

Because the illnesses were not deemed contagious, the Department of Health did not conduct a review of the two Corinth girls and concluded that the illnesses were not related to the Le Roy illnesses. The Corinth girls’ symptoms began to manifest before the symptoms being seen in Le Roy, according to The Daily News.

Randy Nicholson, Alycia’s father, told the Times Union that Alycia’s symptoms began when she collapsed while pitching a softball game and have continued since. Both Lori and Alyicia played for their high school softball team and both went on a trip last summer, which was after Alycia began exhibiting symptoms, for a tournament in Ohio, said The Daily News. The team stopped in Le Roy on the way.

Initially seemingly only affecting younger women, news recently broke with reports of a teenage boy and 36-year-old woman, Marge Fitzsimmons, who suffer from the same set of symptoms. The boy is a Le Roy student and Fitzsimmons, who has been unable to work for months, has lived her entire life in Le Roy. The teens began experiencing their symptoms around the same time that Fitzsimmons began experiencing stammer, verbal outbursts, and limb spasms—last fall.

In 1970, a train accident spilled cyanide and TCE (trichloroethene), an industrial solvent, in LeRoy, the location of which has been deemed a SuperFund site. The spill took place about four miles from Le Roy Junior-Senior High School. A1999 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report indicates that some 35,000 gallons of TCE contaminated the area. Some feel the school, built in 2006, might have been built with tainted supplies related to the train derailment. Also, a toxic brine tank spill at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School, which was never reported by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), took place on the school’s athletic fields. This past July, NYS DEC inspectors discovered that two “brine” tanks spilled toxic fluids onto the athletic fields. “Brine” also known as “produced water,” is a radioactive fluid pumped from the ground with natural gas and contains chlorides, bromides, and heavy metals. Area trees and other vegetation near the spill site have died.

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