Earlier this month, The Blaze reported on a mysterious illness that is affecting 12 girls from Leroy Central School District in New York. The girls had strange, sudden symptoms of ticks, tremors and verbal outbursts, which doctors have since claimed to have diagnosed but are not releasing the actual cause of the illness to the public due to patient confidentiality.
Now, activist Erin Brockovich has stepped in to investigate. USA Today reports that Brockovich, who helped expose toxic chemical dumping in California and gained popularity when Julia Roberts portrayed her in a 2000 film, was approached by some parents of the students -- now 15 students including one boy report symptoms -- to look into the case.
USA Today has more on what Brockovich found:
[...] she has spent the past week studying federal and state reports of a 1970 train derailment that spilled cyanide and an industrial solvent called trichloroethene within 3 miles of the high school attended by the 12 girls who started reporting neurological symptoms last fall. Three other teens, including one boy, are reportedly experiencing similar symptoms.
"We don't have all the answers, but we are suspicious," Brockovich says. "They have not ruled everything out yet. The community asked us to help and this is what we do."
USA Today reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency produced a report in 1999 that stated one ton of cyanide crystals and 35,000 gallons of trichloroethene were associated with the train's derailment. The cyanide was reportedly cleaned up but the trichlorethene soaked into the ground.
In a statement earlier this month, health officials said they have ruled out environmental factors, infections, the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning, illegal drugs and vaccines. Some doctors have come forward saying they think it could be conversion disorder, a neurological problem brought on by stress, but New York officials have said the illness is not just in the students' heads.
The National Institute of Health, which has been conducting studies on conversion disorder, is interested in providing a second opinion on the students. Watch this report for more on NIH's involvement:
Last week, the some of the girls were featured on the Today show. Watch that clip with the students exhibiting some of their symptoms: