Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sri Lanka:Mass Hysteria cause of School Student Allergy

More than 1,900 schoolchildren of 15 schools in Sri Lanka and five teachers have been treated for a range of symptoms that include skin rashes, vomiting, vertigo and cough during last week due to an allergic reactions while some believe it is as a Mass hysteria.

It originated at the Jinaraja Balika Vidyala in Gampola,Central Province on November 15, 2012  when a 1100 students were rushed to hospital with sudden allergies which range of symptoms that include skin rashes, vomiting, vertigo and cough.
Some of the students who were sent home after initial treatment had to be once again taken to hospital because of fainting bouts and complaints of headaches. Some of them had broken out in skin rashes too.

“About 80% of these students sought treatment following panic reactions. We couldn’t find any signs of rashes but they were complaining of symptoms which we believe could have been psychological,” Central Province Health Director Dr. Shanthi Samarasinghe said.
 “The allergy was present only for a day and the rashes disappeared when the children were treated with simple medications for allergies.
“There were few cases where some students fainted and there were also instances when the students vomited but we still couldn’t come to a conclusion regarding the factors that caused these reactions,” she said.
After that incident on November 16, there were more reports of students from other parts of the country showing similar symptoms. 60 of the Somadevi Primary school of Weligepola, Balangoda and more than 60 students from Walagamba Maha Vidyalaya were hospitalised while more than 200 students of Nugawela Boys’ School, Kandy had shown symptoms of allergic reactions and admitted to the hospital.
Doctors stated that students who were brought to hospital showed symptoms of coughing, vomiting and itchiness.
Meanwhile Dr. Harischandra Gambheera, a psychiatrist attached to the National Institute of Mental Health, Angoda, said that there was a possibility that these symptoms could have been the result of Dissociative State also referred to as mass hysteria.
“This is common among children especially girls and that it could spread among a group, all complaining of similar symptoms” he said.

What is Mass hysteria?
Mass hysteria—other names include collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior—is the spontaneous manifestation of the same or similar hysterical physical symptoms by more than one person.
A common manifestation of mass hysteria occurs when a group of people believe they are suffering from a similar disease or ailment. Sometimes referred to as mass psychogenic illness or epidemic hysteria. (Wikipedia)

The Medical Research Institute (MRI) is expected to release its findings on the recent outbreak of 'allergic reaction' soon.MRI officials believed the reaction to be caused by some insects or mites.
Sri Lanka Health Ministry has taken steps to deploy a team consisting of specialist doctors at each school where children were affected by an allergic reaction, in order to carry out medical tests.
 “There is no doubt it is mass hysteria. Because it is communicable and has spread among children of the same age group, even in schools far apart,” said The Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Dr Harischandra Gambhira .

“They should not be admitted to hospitals, given medical drugs or treatment for their so called allergic reactions, since this will only compound this problem. Instead, they should be clearly told that it is psychological,” he said.


Name of the School
No of Students Admitted
November 14, 2012
Jinaraja Balika Vidyalaya -  Gampola
November 15, 2012
Panwilatenna Maha Vidyalaya - Gampola
November 15, 2012
Udagama Maha Vidyalaya, in Gampola
November 16, 2012
Somadevi Primary school of Weligepola, Balangoda
November 16, 2012
Weligepola Walagamba Vidyalaya - Balangoda 
November 16, 2012
Nugawela Boys' School - Kandy
November 18, 2012
Athimale Maha Vidalia - Siyabalanduwa
November 18, 2012
Senarathwala Maha Vidalia - Digana

November 18, 2012
Polwattu Rathnasara Maha Vidyalaya
November 19, 2012
Muslim Maha Vidalia - Gampola
November 20, 2012
Udagama Maha Vidalia - Balangoda
November 20, 2012
Gamini Vidalia - Ampara
November 20, 2012
Anurudha Balika Vidalia - Dematagoda


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