Mysterious Illness Causes Twitching st Va. School

Health experts found no cause for a mysterious illness at a Virginia school.

ByABC News via logo
November 6, 2007, 10:45 AM

Nov. 6, 2007 — -- Virginia school officials plan more testing today to determine the source of a mysterious illness that has worked its way through an area high school and caused a strange symptom among students and staff -- twitching.

So far, the illness has sickened several students and a teacher at William Byrd High School in Vinton, Va., and officials can't specify specific symptoms to watch out for.

But one mother said her child is experiencing bouts of sudden twitching and uncontrollable arm spasms, along with headaches and dizziness.

The school is closed today for elections, but school officials said they do not plan future closures or relocated classes. Health experts said that based on the environmental test results, there's no need to close, according to The Associated Press.

That's no consolation to students and parents, who paced an auditorium at a public meeting Monday night with officials from the school system, the Virginia Department of Health and the companies that conducted environmental tests, according to the AP.

Health experts tested for mold, and the school came up clean. Disturbed by the twitching that accompanies the illness, many students and parents want the school to remain closed.

"They wave. It's convulsing. They can't stop it," said senior Layne Gulli of the symptoms. "You don't know how to avoid it. You don't know if you're next, or if your friend is next, or if it's an epidemic."

Rumors already have begun circulating as to what is causing the problem.

"There's rumors it was carbon dioxide from the photography room," said sophomore Joe Bradshaw. "We heard it was lead paint. Nobody knows what it is.