In Saratoga County, where Lori lives, there were 525 cases of Lyme disease in 2011, according to records from the New York Department of Health. In Genesee County, however, where Le Roy is located, there was one case that year.
Le Roy Girls Get Better, but Lori Doesn't Improve
As 14 of the 19 tic-ing teenagers went to Dent Neurologic Institute for further testing, with help from experts at the New York Department of Health and the National Institutes of Health, Brownell refused to send Lori there.
"No, Lori did not go to Dent, would never go to Dent, nor would I ever want to have them see her," Brownell said. "They're the ones saying it's mass hysteria for those other girls like in Le Roy."
McVige, a pediatric neurologist at Dent Institute, treated the other Le Roy teenagers, looking for infectious or environmental causes for their tics. She found none.
McVige also tested them for Lyme disease. None of her patients tested positive for that either.
"We even called other infectious disease specialists and retested everyone again," McVige said. "They had multiple tests and retesting done. Nobody actually had Lyme disease."
Although a few of the girls had pre-existing Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by tics, the rest were diagnosed with mass psychogenic illness.
"The diagnosis of mass psychogenic illness was not made without considerable input from regional and national experts," the institute wrote on its website at the time of the diagnosis. "We understand the difficulty some of our patients and family members may have with our diagnosis. It is also reassuring to see that most of our patients are improving significantly over the last several months."
But Lori's mother called the institute's diagnosis "wrong, wrong, wrong." Although doctors from Dent Neurologic Institute had never met Lori, her mother insisted the institute didn't test for Lyme, which McVige denied.
"I really think they want people to hide somehow," Brownell said. "Dent has clamped the mouths up of Le Roy people, and I don't know how or what, but I know a lot of them don't want the media."
McVige's colleague, Dr. Lazlo Mechtler, told the local NBC affiliate, WGRZ, that the patients often got worse after media appearances.
"They had more symptoms, they had worsening of their movement disorder, they passed out, they had seizures, it was very concerning to me," Mechtler told WGRZ.