Erin Brockovich Investigates Odd Student Illness in Upstate New York

Meet teenager Lori Brownell, the first exemplar of an outbreak of involuntary trembling and verbal outbursts that's drawn health professionals and environmentalists to the town of Le Roy, New York. Brownell is not from Le Roy, hailing instead from Corinth some 450 miles eastward, but she happened to eat dinner in the town last summer right before her life began to get weird.

In one of the early YouTube videos she started filming to document her condition, she explained that she passed out suddenly last August while headbanging at a concert. Then she fainted at a school dance, after which her body became wracked with tremors. She went on meds, but the twitching continued and was soon joined with a violent sort of snorting and what she believes are seizures.

Brownell's disorder wouldn't be all that notable if it weren't for students at Le Roy Jr. / Sr. High School rapidly developing the same type of tics and verbal outbursts. The Le Roy school district and the New York State Health Department began investigating "neurological symptoms associated with a small number of students" in November. That number of students has since climbed to 15, the vast majority being females.

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