National Spotlight On Le Roy

January 30, 2012 Updated Jan 30, 2012 at 9:29 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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January 30, 2012 Updated Jan 30, 2012 at 9:29 PM EDT

LE ROY, NY ( WKBW ) The mysterious illness that has given over a dozen Le Roy High School students tics and Tourettes syndrome like symptoms has now captured the attention of the nation.

The national spotlight continues to focus on this rural community after nationally known environmentalist Erin Brokovich brought in a member of her team to take soil samples this past weekend.

In addition, Dr. Drew Pinsky, the Headline News Network host who interviewed Brokovich appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" offering his thoughts on whether the illness is based on environmental issues, or the conversion disorder that was diagnosed by doctors at Dent Neurological Institute in Western New York.

Channel 7's Jason Gruenauer visited Le Roy where Zachary Parker, the brother of one of the girls who has exhibited symptoms of this illness told Eyewitness News he hopes his sister Lydia gets better, as he and her family help her cope.

Eyewitness News cameras visited the site where a railroad spill of toxic chemicals in the early 1970's is being targeted as a possible cause of the the illness.

The nationally syndicated show, "The Doctors" is expected to focus on the Le Roy illness later this week. "The Doctors" can be seen weekdays at 4pm on WKBW-TV.

Monday evening, a statement from the Le Roy Central School District, released by the law firm of Harris Beach was obtained by Eyewitness News with respect to coverage of this story:

Media Statement from Le Roy Central School District – January 30, 2012

Kim Cox, the superintendent of the Le Roy Central School District, is referring media inquiries on medical and environmental questions to the experts from the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. They are best equipped to answer your technical questions, as they have ours.

As has been communicated, the District has been working closely for months with numerous medical professionals, the State Department of Health, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. All of these agencies and dozens of professionals from these agencies have assured the District that the school is safe. There is no evidence of an environmental situation or infectious cause. In addition, to help assist the District with assessing all aspects of this situation, it hired its own independent environmental expert to conduct a review of the findings and offer alternative approaches if needed. This was done not because the District questioned the state medical professionals or federal agencies, but to help reassure the community. There are also some who are attempting to marry the 1970 derailment to the school when in fact the plume has been shown as moving in the opposite direction some three miles away.

The Le Roy community should take assurance that the Department of Health concluded extensive reviews of both the epidemiology and the clinical evaluations and found no evidence of environmental or infection as the cause of the students’ illness. An environmental exposure would affect many people. The treating physicians ruled out PANDAS. The school was tested for Volatile Organic Compounds (including TCE) by an independent firm. The school is served by a public water system. The Gardasil vaccine was ruled out because many of the girls did not receive the vaccine. The Department of Environmental Conservation reaffirmed the evaluation that there is no evidence of environmental factors.

The District will certainly welcome input from outside experts if they choose to offer it in a professional and constructive manner. It will rely on its own expert as well as counsel from the Department of Health, DEC and EPA as to whether any further testing is deemed appropriate. However, in the event that it is recommended, it will be done with a specific plan based upon all available information and accepted scientific protocols. The District wants to be clear that it has confidence with respect to the conclusions of the Department of Health based upon its comprehensive review of this situation as well as the assessment of the physicians at the DENT Neurologic Institute.

The Le Roy Central School District and the Leroy community want what is best for the children in the schools. Unfortunately, the endless speculation without factual basis is creating an extreme level of anxiety and concern. Students are unable to focus on learning. The constant attention has had a negative impact on the recovery of some of the students who are directly affected, many who were improving and whose symptoms have now become exacerbated. The District knows this has been an emotionally hard situation on the community and everyone hopes for the speedy recovery of its students.