Via The Daily Beast: ‘Some 200 preteen and teenage girls in a Colombian village have suddenly developed symptoms, including nausea, dizziness and fatigue, without clear explanation. The rapidity of onset has raised concerns that there might be an infection going through the town or—more sinister—that it could be a reaction to a vaccine introduced to prevent human papilloma virus HPV.
Likely it is neither. In fact, the exact story has played out previously in another town—Le Roy, New York, in 2012—with the same age group and sex of the affected all girls but one, and the same vaccine just introduced. There was a call from anti-vaccine enthusiasts and others to halt the vaccine ASAP until the inconvenient fact came out that, though the vaccine was indeed being given in the town, many of the teens with the symptoms had not received it. Ah, well.
Rather than a strict medical cause, many have labeled the Le Roy problem and the current Colombia illnesses as “mass hysteria” or a “mass psychogenic illness” MPI. This diagnosis occupies a uniquely dark and uncomfortable corner of medicine. The concept of mass hysteria is rather chilling to consider. It is particularly awkward given the demographic: Almost every example is that of young girls who develop a cluster of near-identical symptoms. And, after much sturm und drang, all are diagnosed as nuts though with gentler, more clinical terms by older men who, let’s face it, are not without their own issues. ‘