Dr. Jennifer McVige of Dent Neurology
BUFFALO, NY -- A mysterious illness affecting a dozen teenage girls at the same local school may now be solved. But at least one parent doesn't believe the diagnosis.
Dr. Jennifer McVige at Dent Neurology is treating 11 of the 12 girls from LeRoy High School and as of Wednesday she had permission from a handful of the girls and their parents to talk about their diagnosis. It's called Conversion Disorder, which is a disorder in which physical or stressful events are manifested in a physical form. The stressor that triggers it, Dr. McVige says, can be different for everyone. "When someone is in high school or a teenager is in high school there are stressful things that occur in their life that can cause you to have great discomfort or upset or anxiety about things. So for each person it does not need to be the same thing."
Meanwhile, Wednesday morning the country was introduced to another one of Dr. McVige's patients on the Today show. Brooke Dupont said her ticks started two weeks before Christmas, and although she's feeling good, she's scared the symptoms could get worse. "I feel a lot better now but I just don't know what will happen down the road," said Dupont.
Her father, Jim Dupont, doesn't think Conversion Disorder is to blame. "You need to at least have a believable diagnosis, not just a coincidental one, that was loosely given to us with the Conversion Disorder, mass hysteria type thing, which nobody's buying it." He added, "The stress related, or it's all in your head, or copy-cat, or whatever they want to call it is not believable to me."
Dr. McVige responded, "When a diagnosis can be accepted and appropriate treatment given then we can move on and people can get better. And I'm happy to say the majority of people I'm treating have greatly improved since we've started."
Generally speaking, Dr. McVige says treatment for Conversion Disorder includes psychotherapy, behavior modification therapy and medication.
Jim Dupont wants more testing done on his daughter and at the school, even though the LeRoy School District released results this week of an environmental study claiming all samples came back at normal levels.
When 2 On Your Side's Melissa Holmes asked Dr. McVige why we are only see these symptoms in this group of girls at LeRoy right now, she responded, "That's the interesting part and that's why everybody's reporting on it. We're not quite sure why there's this little subset of individuals that's developed this at the same time."
"It's heart wrenching because you feel like your daughter's not going to be able to have a normal life," said Dupont.