Excerpted from ABC News: (05/13/2013)
Although Lori had tested negative for Lyme disease in 2009, two years before her tics started, Dr. Daniel Cameron said he diagnosed her with it in 2012 based on blood tests and her medical history, which included a swollen knee, the year she was tested for Lyme. Cameron said Lori probably had a false negative test in 2009, and that the bacterium had smoldered and gotten worse over time, causing neurological symptoms.
.On Dec. 19, 2011, Lori Brownell, who was 17 at the time, shot a YouTube video of herself as she talked about the tics she’d developed weeks earlier. She twitched her body, fluttered her fingers and made noises in her throat as she described her fainting and seizing episodes.
“When I do this, there’s this weird feeling that goes up and down my spinal column,” she explained to the camera shortly before going into a fit of clapping.
“If anyone wants to talk about this or if anyone’s starting it, I’ll be willing to talk,” she said, signing off on the video that would eventually get more than 250,000 hits.
She would soon make national news.
Within a few months, 18 high school girls and one boy in western New York came down with the same Tourette’s syndrome-like symptoms as Lori’s, sparking a national media frenzy and a medical mystery. Although Lori lives in Corinth, N.Y., she became lumped in with the majority of the tic-ing girls 250 miles away in Le Roy, because she’d driven through the town with a friend on her way to a softball game in Ohio.
As the Le Roy girls appeared on talk shows, one doctor suggested they had Pandas, a pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections. Another doctor suggested the tics were caused by the HPV vaccine Gardasil. Soon, famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich said she suspected groundwater contamination from a 40-year-old chemical spill caused the tics.