The Laughter Epidemic In Tanzania

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.


from It's Okay To Be Smart

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Primates, dogs, and rats all exhibit laughter. (2:25)

  • 2

    In 1962, school children in Tanzania experienced omuneepo—a Swahili term meaning "laughing disease." (3:29)

  • 3

    Younger people are more susceptible to contagious laughter. (5:02)

See all





Get smarter every day! Like us on Facebook.
You'll get the most interesting and engaging topics in your feed, straight from our team of experts.