Medical Investigation

Season 1 Episode 6


Aired Friday 10:00 PM Oct 15, 2004 on NBC

Episode Recap

Northern Nebraska University: two football players collapse, one in the locker room and the other in the showers…

At NIH, Frank briefs the team. The symptoms are vertigo, numbness, paralysis, seizures and coma. The MRI's show lesions, inflammation of the brain. The first patient, a large African-American man, Gordon Kraft, is in better shape than his teammate, he is in and out of consciousness. The other patient, a white boy called Peter Warren is in a coma. Dr Salgado said she recommended to the university that the entire football team be quarantined for seven days but this is homecoming week, and she actually got death threats when word got around. Connor questions Gordon, does he use drugs – no, do he and Peter eat at the same places – no.

The tests return with the answer: acute malignant multiple sclerosis. The immune system turns against itself, attacking the nerves in the brain. 8% of the population is genetically predisposed therefore more at risk. But why aren't there more patients? Why is Peter more sick than Gordon? Discussing possibilities, the obvious two are either designer drugs or an environmental agent. Miles insists that drugs are unlikely. These boys have scholarships, they could go to pro ball, they get caught using, they lose everything. Connor says regardless, look beyond his assumptions – look into it.

Connor talks to the athletics director, David Weiner. Frank phones and says the students won't give him access to the dorms. Connor tells Weiner that he won't issue a health alert – scaring the people coming to homecoming week festivities – if they are allowed access to the players' dorms. Weiner agrees and samples are taken from everything from clothing to food. The rest of the football players are also tested.

A girl collapses with similar symptoms. The doctor tells them that another girl collapsed a few days ago. The girls are pledge sisters at the same sorority house, Delta Theta Zeta. Durant notes there are no lesions on the MRI's so thinks it could be a different disease.

After testing different drugs on campus, Miles concludes that the likely one is GHB, it could cause the symptoms they're seeing. It clears the blood stream in 4 – 7 hours so wouldn't show up in drug screening. Weiner insists the boys are clean.

Eva and Durant visit the sorority president of Delta Theta Zeta, Amy. There was a party three weeks ago, some of the football players attended. They made their own moonshine for the themed party and Durant says they'll have to test it. The girl is pre-law and tries to use legal jargon on them but it doesn't apply here so the team can do the tests.

Connor talks to Gordon again and Gordon tells him that he's a nutrition major, he's a health nut. Connor shows Gordon Peter in the hopes that Gordon will talk if he's keeping something back. He does, admitting that he and Peter have personal trainers, which isn't allowed, who was helping them to bulk up fast, body building supplements etc. The trainer has a shady record, he was giving them Mexican steroids. Weiner referred Peter and Gordon to him, and Connor and Frank confront him. Weiner collapses with the same symptoms as Peter and Gordon.

Four more pledges are admitted to hospitals, with the same symptoms as the other two girls. Connor and Durant discuss the possibility of it being sympathetic hysteria, like with the girls that caused the Salem Witch Trials.

A girl who plays hockey collapses with symptoms like Peter and Gordon, also multiple sclerosis. Eva noticed the students use barcode keycards to access the campus buildings, they could track their movements. Once done, Berkeley Hall comes up the most, which they'd already tested, but they run more tests and again the building comes up clean.

The results on the pledge girls come back as mercury poisoning. Talking to the sorority president, Amy, again, Durant and Eva note that no members have become sick, only pledges. They find out that one of the pledges, Rebecca, was considered unsuitable and was de-pledged. Going to visit her, they find that she's fine. Durant and Eva quiz her about any hazing and Rebecca admits that Amy insisted the girls be thin and started outlining their 'fat' with lipstick, bought in Belize. They weren't allowed to wash it off until the following week. Physically, Rebecca was considered perfect so she never had the lipstick applied to her. She became disgusted and left the sorority house. Durant and Eva ask if there's any lipstick left for them to test – Amy has all of it.

Weiner wakes up in hospital and Connor asks him when he last ate with the students – at the athletes dinners, held at a house that doesn't have the keycard entry. Going there, Connor and Frank find a banquet in progress. They discuss possibilities and find the solution: there's a machine serving organic milk from the cows at the agricultural school. Miles confirms that Weiner tried the milk. Connor pulls the fire alarm to get everyone out without a panic. The organic milk is tested and found to be the source of the sickness. Connor explains that the school has only a few cows, small gene pools, inbreeding and this is the result.

Tests on the lipstick come back loaded with mercury. The six pledges who had to wear it for long periods of time were exposed when the mercury being absorbed into their skin. The college will have a long talk with Amy about her house's initiations.
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