Update on Tourette-Like Illness in Leroy

1:25 PM, Feb 23, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Courtesy: Associated Press


LEROY, NY -- Administrators in the Leroy Central School District updated parents and students about a mysterious disorder that's affected twelve female high school students, causing them to exhibit symptoms similar to Tourette Syndrome.  

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder defined by involuntary motor and vocal tics.

Wednesday night, administrators said all 12 students have been diagnosed and are being treated.  They are not releasing causes due to HIPAA laws. They said they found similarities among some cases but wouldn't elaborate. 

"I can assure you these children have all been seen by professionals that have come up with answers and they are all being treated and they're actually doing pretty well," said Dr. Greg Young, with the NYS Department of Health. They have ruled out all environmental factors, infections and the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.  NYS Health Department spokesman Jeff Hammond also says vaccines such as Gardasil were investigated as a cause and ruled out.  

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has been consulted, and so has Columbia University, the Genesee County Health Department and the New York State Health Department. The CDC and Columbia University Medical School would not comment.  But the

Dr. Young said tics like this can be caused by genetics, head trauma, drugs (all students tested negative), antihistamines, and drugs for ADHD and OCD.  They said cases like this have been seen nationwide and they come and go in individuals.  They add it's not uncommon to see them in waves as stress and anxiety exacerbate them.  UB Neurology Professor Dr. David Lichter says some cases in schools and elsewhere have also been linked to mass hysteria but state officials feel that is not the case here.

Symptoms in these kids are "significant" according to officials, and they add they do not believe the students are making the illness up.

Some parents at the meeting were not satisfied by the response they got from officials.  Jim DuPont spoke about his concerns afterwards.  He said his daughter has missed almost every day of school in the past month.

"Now she has to be tutored," said DuPont.  "And I worry about her future.  She's only 17.  She can't even drive now."  DuPont said his daughter is being treated by a neurologist, but still hasn't gotten a diagnosis.

DuPont says she has never exhibited any symptoms like this before.  "It's heartbreaking because you know her normal mannerisms," he said.


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