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One of the most infamous American tales was from 1997 when word got around that children watching Pokemon in Japan had suffered seizures. As the story went, the flashing lights triggered seizures and other illnesses in as many as 12,000 children. The Simpsons even used an episode to send the Simpsons to Japan and fall victim to a seizure-inducing action cartoon. While it’s true that quickly flashing lights have the ability to trigger epileptic seizures, did it actually happen?

According to Live Science, despite how popular that story was, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The diagnosis was not Pokemon-induced seizures but mass hysteria. Symptoms of dizziness, headaches, and vomiting didn’t track with seizures, while actual seizure symptoms like drooling, tongue-biting, and stiffness were nearly nonexistent. What actually happened was that some children reacted to the show, and then the next day after the story got out, 10,000 more cases suddenly appeared. It was only after the media covered those few initial incidents that everyone else jumped on the Pikachu Pox bandwagon.

It’s possible some children had legit seizures (about 1 in 5,000 people suffers photosensitive epilepsy), but it just wouldn’t be that many kids.

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