More than 50 students faint in Vietnam school 'mass hysteria'

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Dozens of girl students at a Ho Chi Minh City high school were hospitalized this week after they fainted en masse, with doctors speculating it could be a phenomenon called mass hysteria or merely weakness due to skipping meals.

VnExpress quoted Ngo Tan Hung, the principal of An Nghia High School in Can Gio District, as saying 51 girls passed out soon after their classes began Monday morning. Another 15, including some who had fainted the day before, did so Tuesday morning, he said.

They were taken to a nearby general health clinic where doctors said they had been in shock but recovered after a rest, according to Hung.

VnExpress quoted some students as saying they had felt tired and dizzy before fainting. Others said they felt dizzy after seeing their friends pass out.

Doctors from the Can Gio General Hospital, who came to the school Tuesday to study the case, said the girls were probably stricken by mass hysteria, a condition not unknown to medicine.

It could be caused by physical reasons or psychological stress and anxiety, and is thought to afflict teenage girls more than any other group.

The doctors also wondered if it was related to a decrease in blood pressure caused by skipping breakfast or staying up late at night, the news report said.

The school allowed the students to stay at home and rest Wednesday, and told their parents not to worry since the condition was not too rare.

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In 2010 and 2011 cases of mass hysteria were reported in the central provinces of Phu Yen and Quang Binh, with dozens of students fainting.

An episode involving more than 40 workers was reported in the southern province of Long An in 2010.

Experts said the symptoms usually last for a few days, but tend to disappear when the afflicted group disperses.

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