Further Investigation into Mystery Tourette-Like Outbreak in a US School

leroy-new-york-mystery-tourette

Last week, school administrators at the LeRoy Central School District in northwestern New York state approved a plan that will allow further testing at the town’s high school, where a total of 19 people, 18 girls and one boy, developed a sudden-onset disorder with symptoms similar to Tourette’s syndrome

Many of the infected patients claim that the symptoms appeared out of nowhere. They developed uncontrollable movements and vocalizations, which could be dramatic like arms twitching, jolting to one side, speech chopped up with nonsense utterings, head jerkings and bizarre eye blinking. Blackouts and seizures were also reported. The first cases appeared in May of last year. The second happened in September and by the end of October, eight students were affected.

aerial-shot-leroy

Health officials from New York state have been investigating the outbreak ever since. However, no cause has yet been found. There were no abnormal levels in air-quality tests. Eight of the girls were diagnosed with mass hysteria. The conversion disorder usually manifests in people who are in close contact with each other, thanks to a trigger. The sickness seems organic in nature, but investigations have yet to find a physical cause.

It doesn’t appear to be an infection, at least not one that officials have been able to detect. There was a spill back in December 1970 3.47 miles from the school that dumped one tonne of cyanide crystals and 114,000 liters of the industrial solvent trichloroethene (TCE) but this doesn’t seem to be implicated in the outbreak.

Some of the ones affected by this mystery outbreak have now recovered, so the school is continuing its testing to determine the exact nature of the outbreak.

[via Nature]

1 Comment on "Further Investigation into Mystery Tourette-Like Outbreak in a US School"

  1. Hopefully this note will be helpful for the families of the children in LeRoy NY, who by all measurable accounts, are suffering with Tourette’s syndrome. Below is link discussing several cases involving patients who were displaying with Tourette’s syndrome and who were also found to be infected with Mycoplasma pnuemoniae. Note that none of the children were showing any outward signs of pneumonia. Usage of a macrolide, erythromycin over the period of one month resolved the tics.

    Macrolides kill bacteria that lack a cell wall, specifically mycoplasmas. Azithromycin is often more effective with less side effects. It works by bonding specifically with the prokaryote’s (single cell bacteria) ribosome, stopping the bacteria’s normal functions, and thus killing the bacteria.

    Searching the web for linkage between Tourette’s and mycoplasma, lead to this Acrobat .pdf below, providing more detailed case history:
    http://www.tourette-syndrom.de/download/bts_tourettesyndromeandmycoplasmapneumoniaeinfection.pdf

    Three excerpts from the above .PDF include:
    “Mycoplasma pneumoniae was cultured from Allen’s nasopharynx and throat. Since Mycoplasma pneumoniae¬-induced deteriorat¬ion of Tourette’s Syndrome was suggested, treatment with erythromycin was begun (900 mg/day) and continued 4 weeks. Allen’s tics disappeared and the antibody titer to Mycoplasma pneumoniae decreased to 1:1,280. “

    “Mycoplasma pneumoniae was cultured from Bailey’s oropharynx. Therapy with erythromycin was begun (1600 mg/day). After 4 weeks of treatment, Bailey’s antibody titer decreased (1:640) and there was marked clinical improvement of motor and vocal tics; however, signs of attention deficit disorder persisted.”

    “Tourette’s Syndrome is believed to be the final common pathway of various disorders that have different etiologies. Infection with various agents, including Mycoplasma pneumoniae, should be considered a possible etiological factor in predisposed individuals.”

    These organisms have a very small genetic genome, regularly exhibiting genetic polymorphisms as they adapt to their environment….so as a side note, past studies have found multiple “subspecies” within the same patient.

    I suspect that kids in LeRoy may have consumed infected meat or milk. If macrolides clear up the problem or significantly improve it, I will be more than happy to share the information and experiences that I have.

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