Some Of The Strangest Unsolved Medical Mysteries Of All Time

Dancing mania on a pilgrimage to the church at Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, a 1642 engraving by Hendrick Hondius after a 1564 drawing by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Wikimedia Commons

The 1983 West Bank Fainting Epidemic

Nearly 1,000 people, almost all of them teenage Palestinian girls near the West Bank, were hospitalized between March and April 1983 for fainting. Multiple female Israeli soldiers in the area also suffered frm fainting, blurred vision, and nausea.

The New York Times reported that “Palestinian leaders have accused Israeli settlers and officials of using 'chemical warfare' in West Bank schools to drive Arabs out of the area or to sterilize Arab girls.”

However, medical experts now generally believe that this was most likely an instance of mass hysteria. A report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) argues that small isolated instances of hydrogen sulfide poisoning might have sparked a psychogenic illness among the young women, many of whom had been living with high levels of anxiety and stress due to the troubles in the West Bank area.

Sean Paul And Sudoku Puzzles Causing Seizures

In this case, a 25-year-old man suffers from seizures but only when trying to solve Sudoku puzzles. Doctors at the University of Munich recently carried out a study on the man to try to figure out what is going on. They found that he doesn't experience the seizures when he reads, when doing math calculations, or when he writes numbers down, but he does have seizures when carrying out other visuospatial tasks involving numbers.

If that wasn’t specific enough, there’s also a woman who has a seizure every time she hears Sean Paul's song "Temperature". After noticing this pattern, she realized it also happens with other R&B chart songs like Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girl" and Rihanna's "Umbrella”. The 2000s must have been tough.

“The Toxic Lady”

In February 1994, Gloria Ramirez was rushed to a Californian hospital, suffering from the effects of advanced cervical cancer. Within a matter of hours, 23 of the 37 emergency room staff who had come into contact with her began to faint and suffer muscle spasms, with many having to be hospitalized.

To this day, no one is quite sure what happened in "The Toxic Lady” case. People initially suspected it could be a case of mass hysteria; however, experts have recently developed a slightly more scientific version of events.

A team of scientists, writing in the journal Forensic Science International in 1997, explain that it could have been a chain of unlikely chemical reactions. Independent researchers suggested she had been using dimethyl sulfoxide as a topical homemade pain remedy. Oxygen administered by the doctors could have combined with the dimethyl sulfoxide to form dimethyl sulfone. Electrical shocks from her defibrillation could have then converted the dimethyl sulfone into dimethyl sulfate, a powerful poisonous gas. While it sounds highly unlikely, it's the best explanation we’ve got so far.

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