On August 16, 1951, hundreds of residents in the small town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in France simultaneously suffered from a mysterious illness. A postman, Leon Armunier, was delivering mail on his route when he began to experience extreme hallucinations. “It was terrible. I had the sensation of shrinking and shrinking, and the fire and the serpents coiling around my arms,” he recalled. Taken to a nearby hospital in Avignon, he was placed in a room with three teenagers, similarly experiencing strange symptoms and were forcibly chained to their beds. “Some of my friends tried to get out of the window. They were thrashing wildly…screaming, and the sound of the metal beds and the jumping up and down…the noise was terrible. I’d prefer to die rather than go through that again.” All told, there were 300 reported as being affected that week, with 30 hospitalized and 5 deaths. The most common explanation that arose was ergot poisoning due to a naturally occurring fungus that could have infected the rye found in the bread of a local bakery.