Rejoinder to Radovanovic

If Kosova had a case of mass hysteria in 1990, it stands out in two ways: its length and the many patients. Francois Sirois has studied 70 mass hysterias and his conclusion is that the normal length is 3-14 days. Almost 50 % had at most 30 individuals. Compare this with Kosova: Length 8 months and 8000 individuals.

Using behavioural science Radovanovic refers to studies with very small populations (a factory and a school) and applies them on the 2 millions inhabitants in Kosova. Is it possible?

Radovanovic only used Serb sources. (He admits they were in a bad condition.) As a consequence he is ignorant. The letter he mentions (p. 107), written “five months after the epidemic”, is dated August 15. It means he believes the “epidemic” ended in March. Actually, it continued the whole year. It also means he wrongly believes there were “only” around 4000 patients. Actually, the patients counted about 8000.
He also states no “poison spreader” was ever discovered, which, according to him, must occur, if poison caused the epidemic. In fact, perpetrators were unveiled!

Another consequence is his wrong conclusions. He found no Serb patients in his Serb sources, and by using argumentum e silentio his conclusion is: All patients were Albanians. With Albanian sources, he had found even a Serb policeman among the patients.

Radovanovic’s description of the symptoms is unsatisfying. Albanian statistics shows that many symptoms could hardly be caused by hysteria:

Almost 100 % of the patients had conjunctivitis;
86 % redness in the face. (Radovanovic means Albanian doctors’ maltreatment caused the redness. But the patients had it before entering hospitals).
79 % ogulargyric crisis;
51 % redness of mucosis;

Witnesses describe cases of extreme cramps. A leg could be fixed in an unnatural position, impossible to adjust. Witnesses also let us understand that hypersalivation was more common than according to statistics;

Mass hysteria experts as Bartholomew and Wessely mention a list of characteristica for mass hysteria. Radovanovic says all were found in Kosova. Three are rapid spread and rapid recovery from modest symptoms.

Interviewed patients give another picture. Most of them had problems several weeks, many for months and some for years. There are even patients saying they still have symptoms. One, a high school student, was poisoned by a thick gas, which made students faint or vomit. Since then his eyes are inflamed and he has in vane travelled through Europe for help.

Another example, a girl, age 17: She felt a smell like perfume, fainted and woke up – in a hospital. “All my body was shaking, blood was flowing from the nose, tears from my burning eyes”. Modest symptoms?

Radovanovic means Kosova was “with few exceptions” hit by a teenage epidemic, and this is another mass hysteria criterion. But the exceptions are many. There were patients from 3 years old to 66. 380 were factory workers.

In an important symposium in Zagreb 1990 a Serb professor, Lubomir Eric, who had believed in the teenage thesis, got chocked when he heard also small children were victims. One of them was a Serb boy, 3 years old.

Radovanovic also maintains that no poison was found in Kosova. He refers to the Military Medical Hospital in Belgrade, which took 153 blood samples and three days later published the result: No poison. The quick answer caused a commentary from Dr Barend Cohen. He found it strange that this hospital in three days could do what a Western laboratory needed six weeks to perform.

Radovanovic doesn’t mention Bernard Benedetti, who took 150 samples, finding poison. But, according to him, a French minister stopped the publication of his report. Also Franjo Pllavsic, a Croatian biochemist, found poison (organophosphate) in urine samples. His research was presented in the Zagreb symposium.

Furthermore, Radovanovic refers to the British doctors Alastair Hay and John Foran, who 1991 in the Lancet wrote they found no poison in Kosova. But the Lancet notice gives no information about how Foran (he took the samples) worked, and nothing about where in Kosova samples were taken, or how the patients were selected. And nothing about his contacts with officials in Kosova or the time span between the patients’ first symptoms and the taking of samples.

These questions are surely answered in their report, which should be sent to the “Albanian Communityby a French organisation. But no report arrived, and Dr Hay can’t find his copy. Unfortunately, Dr Foran has been impossible to locate.

Radovanovic gives a detailed description of how the epidemic started in a school in Podujeva. The origin was an infection in one single class, observed March 14. When students from other classes got sick and fainted March 19, mass hysteria had broken out.

But this description is a construction. On March 12, a school porter from Podujeva got a hospital bed in a clinic, which he had visited some days earlier. He had symptoms, which students got one week later: red cheeks, fainting, headache. Was he hit by teenage hysteria, before it started?

To know what happened in Kosova 1990 it’s necessary to ask the patients. Radovanovic has not done it; maybe he hasn’t even got second hand information.

Independent of one another, witnesses have given versions, all fairly similar. Here a Podujeva witness:

Entering her class-room she observed “something white”, placed on her desk. She got curious, poked in it and smelled. A class friend did the same but got symptoms: Foam came from her mouth and she couldn’t answer when spoken to.

The witness then saw pupils fainting. She ran to the school yard. There pupils were lying, fainted or with cramps. She couldn’t avoid treading on them, as they were so many.

Then she got symptoms herself, tremors for 10-15 minutes in intervals. This went on for three months.

School witnesses often mention foaming and fainting after poking in a “white substance”. Foaming was frequent also among factory workers.

Radovanovic says nothing about this. Shall we believe in him – or the witnesses?

What happened in Kosovo in 1990 – Göran Wassenius