Throughout history, there have been countless epidemics that have decimated the human population, but there have also been just as many that have left the world puzzled.
While the epidemics in the following list didn't kill millions of people or reshape entire continents, they did leave most who survived scratching their heads in disbelief.
It was a normal summer day in the small town of Strasbourg (now part of modern France) in July 1518 when the Dancing Epidemic was kicked by a woman who randomly began dancing in the streets. Within a week's time, nearly three dozen townsfolk joined in with the dancing, and the number jumped to 400 by the next month.
The event was jovial at first, but as people began to collapse and die from the stress they were putting on their bodies, authorities in the small village moved the dancing craze to a nearby mountaintop and prayed for divine intervention. At the time, people attributed the dancing fit to a curse put on the town by St. Vitus, but it was later attributed to mass hysteria.
As the world was focused on the Spanish Influenza outbreak in the 1920s, the Sleepy Sickness Epidemic quietly swept through the world and claimed the lives of some 1 million people.
Officially named Encephalitis Lethargica, the Sleepy Sickness started out with a sore throat and seizures before turning into paralysis and eventually death. The victims would eventually end up in a coma or death. But as quickly as it started to spread, the Sleepy Sickness disappeared just as fast in 1926, with no explanation why.
The June Bug Epidemic has gone down as one the most prominent case studies into the effects of mass hysteria, and rightfully so. In June 1962, a mysterious disease broke out in a textile mill in the southern United States. It started with one female worker who complained of dizziness and nausea, but over the course of the following week, more than 60 workers reported identical symptoms.
The workers were convinced that they had been bitten by insects that had infested the mill, and in the following days, the factory owner shut down the operation so that authorities could perform an intensive search and cleanup operation. The Communicable Disease Center of Atlanta was sent in to find samples of the insects but found only two insects throughout the canvassing of the massive facility. Doctors would later determine that the symptoms were the manifestation of mass hysteria.
The Laughter Epidemic spread through the African nation of Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania), when a group of schoolgirls began laughing. However, the fit of laughter did not die down after a few moments. In fact, the laughter spread through the classroom, the building, and the rest of the school before spreading throughout the region.
The epidemic wasn't too much to laugh at as there were reports of the laughter being joined by fainting, crying, and rashes brought on by the fits. It seemed that adults were spared from the epidemic and only children were caught up in the hysteria.
The Pokemon Epidemic will perhaps go down as one of the most bizarre yet explainable epidemics in recent history. In 1997, at the height of the Pokemon children's cartoon, more than 700 Japanese children were rushed to area hospitals after showing signs of severe seizures.
The craze all started with the airing of the "Denno Senshi Porygon" episode of the popular cartoon, an episode that featured what would later be known as the "Pokemon Shock" after television screens across the country displayed flashing lights and repetitive patterns for a few brief moments. Doctors would later attribute the images to the children's illness.
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