Doctor for Le Roy Students Explains Rare Illness

January 19, 2012 Updated Jan 20, 2012 at 3:40 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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January 19, 2012 Updated Jan 20, 2012 at 3:40 PM EDT

Le Roy, NY ( WKBW ) Head and neck spasms, verbal outburst, severe shaking and tremors are just some of the physical symptoms 12 female students at Le Roy High School have been dealing with for nearly nine months.

The state conducted air and mold tests at the school which all came back negative.
Now, there is a medical diagnosis. But doctors are still baffled by this case.

"I've never seen this before in my life," said Dr. Jennifer McVige from the Dent Neurological Institute in Buffalo.

And neither have any of her colleagues, at least not quite like this.

Dr.McVige received permission from four of the 11 LeRoy students under her care to discuss their mystery illness.

After baffling doctors there is a diagnosis. A condition called Conversion Disorder.

"This is subconscious, they're unaware of what they're doing," explained Dr. McVige

Which makes Conversion Disorder very complicated to diagnose and treat.

The disorder is caused solely by psychological factors, not a neurological or other medical condition.

"What it is...is maybe stressors, things that are uncomfortable events in your life mount up inside and kind of manifest itself in a physical manner," continued McVige.

The symptoms of Conversion Disorder include seizures, fainting, weakness, deafness, or problems speaking and is not contagious.

McVige has treated many patients with the disorder but what makes this case so bizarre is that a dozen girls who all attend the same school are showing the symptoms at the same time.

As for any skeptics,"These are very real people with very real symptoms, they're not feigning anything, there's no faking involved with this whatsoever," said McVige.

The case is so rare it has garnered national attention. Two of the Le Roy teens recently made an appearance on the Today Show.

McVige says women are most likely to get the disorder and it is very common in young people.

As for treatment, behavior modification therapy, counseling and medications can ease symptoms.

Some of the girls have already returned to school but McVige expects all of them to eventually recover.