The Laughter Epidemic In Tanzania

Despite its name, the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic of 1962 was hardly funny. Laughter was probably one symptom of a Mass Psychogenic Illness (MPI), which also involved fainting, respiratory ailments, crying, and screaming. The school was forced to close down about a month and a half after the initial "outbreak" of laughter, but the symptoms spread throughout the nearby village and other areas. Sometime between 6 to 18 months later, after the closure of even more schools, the phenomenon ceased.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Primates, dogs, and rats all exhibit laughter. 02:25

  2. In 1962, school children in Tanzania experienced omuneepo—a Swahili term meaning "laughing disease." 03:29

  3. Younger people are more susceptible to contagious laughter. 05:02

Written by Curiosity Staff October 8, 2015