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Outbreak of Tourette's-like symptoms in US teens, is Gardisal to blame or what?


Over the weekend Erin Brockovich made the news yet again as she and her nonprofit team descended on the village of Le Roy, N.Y., determined to test for environmental toxins that might be giving the town's teenagers symptoms of Tourette's syndrome. She has reportedly been stonewalled thus far by local officials, who have already ruled out toxins as the cause of last October's sudden outbreak of tics and involuntary movements in 12 girls who attend Le Roy Junior–Senior High School. An environmental testing company surveyed the air and water and found nothing amiss, and a local neurologist concluded upon examining the girls that they had "conversion disorder," a catchall moniker for physical symptoms that originate in the mind because of stress, trauma or even mass hysteria.
But many of the affected kids, their parents, concerned locals and outside experts are unhappy with that diagnosis, especially as the number of teens with symptoms has risen to 15 in recent weeks. Some experts think the doctors should revisit the idea that the teenagers might have PANS—pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome.
PANS is a new name for an old idea: that infections by bacteria, viruses or parasites can cause the sudden onset of neuropsychiatric ailments such as Tourette's andobsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). (Tic disorders like Tourette's are closely related to OCD, sharing many symptoms and often coexisting in patients.) PANS is more commonly known by its former name, PANDAS—pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infection—because the first known cases were in kids who had strep throat and then suddenly developed OCD. But researchers have realized in recent years that a variety of infectious agents—not just strep—can cause mental illness

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