LEROY, N.Y. -- Several teams that were set to take part in a handfull of basketball games in LeRoy will not participate, due to the illness affecting several high school students there.
Over the last several months, approximately 12 teens have developed nervous tics. Regional experts have diagnosed the tics as symptoms of "conversion disorder," in which stress caused the twitching. Physicians said other girls are acquiring the disorder through mass hysteria.
According to WHEC-TV in Rochester, some of the games involve Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) teams from Monroe County that scheduled games against the CYO basketball team at Our Lady Of Mercy in LeRoy. In most cases, a majority of parents of children on these basketball teams voted to not let their child or children go to the game in LeRoy.
Dave Kelly, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, issued the following statement to 2 On Your Side:
"We are aware that some games at LeRoy this weekend have been cancelled. This was not a diocesan decision, but one made by the individual parents on some CYO teams. According to diocesan policy, if a team cannot field enough players for a scheduled game, they can cancel the game by contacting the opposing coach and CYO director ahead of time. That was the case in this instance."
One of the doctors treating the affected teens is Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, a neurologist at the Dent Institute. He is furious at the decision by the parents, arguing it will only hurt the Le Roy teens.
"This will only aggravate these patients symptoms and they will get worse," he said. "And that's what concerns me the most."
Dr. Mechtler also said outsiders have nothing to fear.
MECHTLER: we're not dealing with an infectious disorder. We are not dealing (with) environmental factors. This is not contagious. So, what we're seeing is hysteria amplifying and spreading.
REPORTER: You are absolutely certain there is no environmental cause, no infection that led to this?
MECHTLER: Absolutely sure about it.
Dr. Mechtler is particularly upset with renown environmentalist Erin Brockovich, who has suggested the illness may be caused by contamination at the school site. She even sent a team there to collect soil samples. But Friday her investigator just announced the sample show the site is not contaminated from a 1970 train crash there.
The State Department of Health also said the site is safe.
At the request of the doctors treating some of the affected teens, 2 On Your Side has decided to no longer show video of the girls. Their doctors told us it could cause their condition to worsen.
The LeRoy Central School District issued two statements regarding teams not wanting to play at LeRoy:
All regular Le Roy Central School District games will be played as scheduled. Unfortunately, some games not involving Le Roy schools that were scheduled to played at private organizations in the Village of LeRoy have been cancelled.
The Department of Health and other agencies and experts have stated repeatedly and unequivocally that the school is completely safe for students and visitors. There is absolutely no reason to keep students from attending events at the school. Several of the affected students are better and others are getting better. We credit the responsible journalists at WGRZ-TV, the Buffalo News, and other local outlets in the region with factual reporting in helping the community to better understand the topic. All of our regular school games will be played as scheduled.