Social Networking to Blame for Spreading LeRoy Illness?

February 6, 2012 Updated Feb 6, 2012 at 9:39 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

February 6, 2012 Updated Feb 6, 2012 at 9:39 PM EDT

Buffalo (WKBW) A new theory has emerged concerning the mystery illness in LeRoy, and it deals with social networking.

Dr. David Lichter, a professor of neurology at the University at Buffalo says that more than a dozen LeRoy students and one adult suffering from the mysterious tourette-like illness may be unconsciously mimicking symptoms from videos uploaded by sufferers on YouTube and Facebook.

"I think you do have the potential for people going online and witnessing other student's behavior, then I think this medium has the potential to spread it beyond the immediate environment," Dr. Lichter said.

A State Department of Health report, released on Friday, states that three of the students with tics had pre-existing conditions, including one who had diagnosed Tourettes.

So is it possible that a few cases can multiply with help from social media?

"Yes that is exactly what I'm saying. It is just an extension of what we've seen with previous outbreaks of this kind. It is some kind of unconscious mimicry that is going on in individuals who are stressed and suggestable and vulnerable," Dr. Lichter said.

At a public meeting over the weekend, a concerned parent brought up the idea that social networking was making a difficult situation even worse. The LeRoy Superintendent agreed, calling Facebook "the last thing these students need."

"Just being able to go ahead and do the job we need to do and educate your children so that they can be successful as they take their next step," LeRoy Schools Superintendent Kim Cox said.