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Teen girls' "medical mystery" baffles doctors


Jan. 18 update: The day after TODAY reported on the baffling case of 12 teenage girls at one school who mysteriously fell ill with Tourette's-like symptoms of tics and verbal outbursts, a doctor who is treating some of the girls has come forward to offer an explanation. Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, a neurologist in Amherst, N.Y., says the diagnosis is "conversion disorder," or mass hysteria. Rolling Eyes

"It's happened before, all around the world, in different parts of the world. It's a rare phenomena. Physicians are intrigued by it," Mechtler told TODAY. "The bottom line is these teenagers will get better."

Tuesday on the show, psychologist and TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz noted that just because the girls' symptoms are psychological in origin doesn't make them any less real or painful.

“That’s not faking it. They’re real symptoms,” Saltz continued. “They need a psychiatric or psychological treatment. Treatment does work.’’

Officials from the LeRoy Junior-Senior High School in upstate New York, where all the girls attended when their symptoms began, have released environmental reports, conducted by an outside agency, showing no substances in any of the school buildings that could cause health problems.

Related: Click here to read the school district's statement and full environmental reports

But some of the girls' parents say they're not satisfied with the explanations so far.

"Obviously we are all not just accepting that this is a stress thing," Jim Dupont, father of one of the affected girls, told TODAY. "It's heart wrenching, you fear your daughter's not going to have a normal life."

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