Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

Update to the LeRoy (NY) teenagers’ mystery neurological illnesses

oatka-creek-leroy-nyOver the past couple of years, I had written a few articles about a mystery neurological ailment that had struck about 20 teenagers, most of whom were students in high school at that time in LeRoy, NY, a small town about 30 minutes from the city of Rochester. The teens suffered tics and other neurological symptoms that seemed to mimick Tourette syndrome, but was never diagnosed as such.

None of the teens had ever exhibited other symptoms of a neurological deficit, and most of them have subsequently recovered. Two new cases appeared in 2013, but none since.

Numerous individuals, including officials of the Monroe County and New York State Departments of Health, attorneys, antivaccination cultists, and others whose speculation ran from useful to outright delusional.  Many individuals who “diagnosed” the teens without actually ever meeting them (proper diagnosis of neurodevelopment disorders requires one on one assessment, not the famous “let’s diagnose medicine over the internet).
(more…) «Update to the LeRoy (NY)…»

No comments

Whatever happened to the LeRoy mystery neurological illnesses?

In spring 2012, I had written a few articles about a mystery neurological ailment that had struck about 20 teenagers at a high school and surrounding area in LeRoy, NY, a small town about 30 minutes from the city of Rochester. They suffered tics that mimicked Tourette syndrome, but was never diagnosed as such. Most of them have recovered, although two new cases have appeared.

Entering the Way-back Machine, let’s see what has happened.

First, Erin Brockovich, yes THAT Erin Brockovich, decided to get involved. In an announcement in August, they announced that they found nothing:

There is no link specifically that I can draw to environmental exposure because there are so many environmental exposures that occurred at the high school. 
(more…) «Whatever happened to the LeRoy…»

Comments (45)

Updates: LeRoy mystery neurological illnesses

This article is an update of one I wrote several months ago. I had presumed the story had ended. It hadn’t.

Background

In spring 2012, I had written a few articles about a mystery neurological ailment that had struck about 20 teenagers at a high school and surrounding area in LeRoy, NY, a small town about 30 minutes from the city of Rochester. They suffered tics that mimicked Tourette syndrome, but was never diagnosed as such. Most of them have recovered, although two new cases have appeared.

Medical and scientific findings

First, Erin Brockovich, yes THAT Erin Brockovich, decided to get involved. In an announcement in August, they stated that they found nothing:

There is no link specifically that I can draw to environmental exposure because there are so many environmental exposures that occurred at the high school. 
(more…) «Updates: LeRoy mystery neurological illnesses»

Comments (2)

LeRoy neurological illness mystery–update 3–is it conversion disorder?

Since I last wrote about the group of individuals suffering from some neurological issues in LeRoy, NY (outside of Rochester), very little new information has come to light.  The junk science purveyors, such as the Age of Autism, is still trying to insinuate that vaccines have something to do with the “outbreak”, although they provide not one tiny bit of evidence supporting such a belief.

A few individuals still claim it is PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, but I am highly skeptical of physicians who self-promote their ideas outside of the standard peer-review process, and that a lot of reviews of the research into PANDAS has come out negative.  As I’ve mentioned before, a recent review of research in PANDAS came to this conclusion: “Despite continued research in the field, the relationship between GAS and specific neuropsychiatric disorders (PANDAS) remains elusive. It is possible that GAS infection may be but one of the many stressors that can exacerbate tic/Tourette’s or OCD in a subset of such patients.”  If there’s not even agreement that PANDAS exists, then a self-serving promotor of this particular diagnosis should be met with a high level of skepticism.  Even researchers who accept PANDAS as a legitimate diagnosis, such as Susan Swedo of the NIMH, are skeptical of such a diagnosis.
(more…) «LeRoy neurological illness mystery–update 3–is…»

Comments (2)

Erin Brockovich to probe New York ‘mass hysteria’ case

Erin Brockovich to probe New York ‘mass hysteria’ case – latimes.com.

Erin Brockovich is really getting involved with the cluster of alleged neurological issues in teenagers in the Leroy, NY area.  The article describes the symptoms as “Tourette’s-like”, but I’m troubled by the lack of a definitive description (let alone diagnosis).  Brockovich, as discussed previously, is still focused on the 1970’s train derailment which spilled arsenic and tricholorethylene.  The speculation about what is causing these issues run from mass hysteria, even outright feigned behavior, to something environmental, such as vaccines or chemicals.

It’s hard to tell what’s going on.  I am almost certain that during the next few days or weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will get involved, interviewing and testing the students, and trying to determine if there is some correlation and possible causal factor.  We probably should wait until the real scientists get involved and provide some real analysis with evidence.

Comments (3)

Activist Erin Brockovich looking into teens’ mystery ailment

Activist Erin Brockovich looking into teens’ mystery ailment – USATODAY.com

I keep running into this story in various locations on the internet. During the past few months, 15 teenagers, mostly students at LeRoy (NY) High School just outside of Rochester, NY, reported neurological symptoms that resemble Tourette’s Syndrome.

Erin Brockovich, namesake of the Julia Robert’s movie, is investigating whether a train wreck in 1970 that spilled 35,000 gallons of cyanide and trichloroeythylene (TCE) near the high school caused or partially caused the symptoms.  Then we have anti-vaccination blogs that blames it on the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, of course, without one tiny little bit of evidence.

The school district has reported that there are no known environmental issues in the air and water.  Given very strict privacy laws, we don’t know if there’s some other medical link (like HPV vaccine).  Of course, if HPV vaccine or some other pharmaceutical were involved, it would be very curious that only a small, rural, upstate New York town would be involved.

TCE is a well known contaminant of groundwater all over the world.  There is some evidence that TCE may be involved with Parkinson’s Disease, though the effects usually take many years.

Right now, there is no evidence that points in any direction.  If you hear that it’s vaccines, you may as well blame alien abduction, because there’s no evidence for that either.  Everything is just speculation.

Comments (5)

America’s past slowly disappearing

No, it doesn’t have to do with covered bridges, old growth forests, or a vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Hostess, makers of Twinkies (immortalized in the since debunked urban myth that they have an indefinite shelf life), Ding Dongs and other comfort foods, is part of the culture of America.  You drive into any convenience store, and there are shelves of the stuff.  I admit to not either liking or having a Twinkie in years (quite possibly since college), but I know exactly how they taste.

And Eastman Kodak, once the power of Rochester, NY, and whose ubiquitous yellow and red film was everywhere.  Now, we think of film as being quaint (though in Hollywood, Kodak still makes a significant percentage of film stock, since many top filmmakers still prefer film to digital).  I learned how to develop Ektachrome and Kodachrome slides, taking almost all my photos on slides up until the early 2000’s.  In fact, I was cleaning out some old boxes, and I found several rolls of exposed Kodachrome, which I could have developed, but the cost was too high, and given the 10 year old age, I wasn’t sure that I’d get good quality.

Anyways, these two brand names are part of the cultural memory of the United States.  But they are disappearing, for Hostess, because we should be eating less processed, high sugar foods, and Kodak, because they stumbled in the transition from analog to digital (though they hold many of the key patents in digital photography and filmmaking).

I guess Whole Foods and Apple are their replacements these days, but they’ll be replaced by something new and better when the next generation replaces us.

No comments
Powered by WordPress 4.0
Don't forget to subscribe to this blog through any the services in the right sidebar.