DANVERS, Mass. — A mysterious outbreak of hiccups has affected about a dozen high school students in this north of Boston community, but officials aren’t speculating on a cause.
Danvers health director Peter Mirandi said that no case has been confirmed through a physician. Without a diagnosis from a doctor or lab tests, health officials cannot determine what may be at work, he said.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been notified, but said it is “too early in the process” to provide further details.
Essex Agricultural and Technical High School serves about 500 students from throughout the county.
The incidents involving what some characterize as vocal tics or hiccups seem to mirror ones shown on TV’s “Today” a year ago, in which 12 high school girls at Le Roy High School in upstate New York suffered vocalizations similar to Tourette’s syndrome. One of the girls told the show that stress worsens her symptoms.
Outside studies of the New York school did not find any substance in the environment that might trigger the symptoms.
According to various reports, Dr. Rosario Trifiletti of New Jersey said the diagnosis may be Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep, or PANDAS, a disorder of vocal and motor tics associated with a strep infection.
Mirandi said speculation without diagnosis could make matters worse. “We don’t know if it’s a contagious disease or an environmentally induced disorder,” he said. “It’s not responsible for me to say anything further on it.” Even drawing attention to the issue could do more harm than good,” he said.
Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.