Nightly News | February 02, 2012
>>> as you may know, there is a mysterious and frightening outbreak going on in a small town in western new york state. several girls from the same high school have tics and switches usually associated with something closer to tourette's syndrome. so far no one knows exactly why. nbc's amy robach first reported this story last month. when she returned this week, she found whatever it is, it may be spreading.
>> reporter: high school students sarah and katie first started experiencing severe tics last fall. since then, more than a dozen young girls at leroy high school in upstate new york had been sick with the very same problems.
>> i was always so active and everybody was always happy to be around me, but i don't feel like myself. any more.
>> reporter: doctors who examined the young women conclude a psychiatric condition known as conversion disorder is to blame.
>> this is a subconscious effect that occurs in patients with -- who may be prone to anxiety or mood disorders , but is definitely real symptoms.
>> reporter: the first time since symptoms started appearing in teenage girls in this small town , a 36-year-old woman not associated with leroy high school is being treated for severe tics and tourette's-like symptoms. is it hard to walk?
>> my whole right side is affected.
>> reporter: marge fitzsimmons is a local mom and nurse practitioner.
>> this is really scary. it's like somebody came in and took home away.
>> reporter: now a team of environmentalists headed up by erin brockovich believes the growing problem may stem from a train derailment near the school more than 40 years ago. the accident involved a large cyanide spill.
>> this is where a railroad car spilled a super fufund product. this is the most complex geological of areas.
>> reporter: brockovich's colleague visited the school and site to take samples of his own. the environmental protection agency has been at that site all week, but insists it is not connected to the illness. erin brockovich 's team has come down, what are your thoughts on that? it's hard to talk, i know. i'm sorry.
>>> at least somebody is doing something about it now.
>> reporter: fitzsimmons and so many families hoping for answers. amy robach , nbc news, leroy , new york.