Condition Leaves Three Girls With Mysterious Tics
A teenage girl's body spasms uncontrollably, an 11-year-old can't stop sneezing, and an 8-year-old flails her arms and makes odd sounds.
All three girls suddenly contracted a baffling condition that had their moms frantic.
The tics mirror the symptoms of Tourette's.
These girls never met before. Yet, mysteriously, all started shaking, twitching or sneezing.
Now, they have traveled to Darien, Connecticut to see Dr. Dennis Bouboulis, the one doctor they hope can help them.
"We're already seeing an explosion of cases," said Dr. Bouboulis.
Heather Bergholt and her 8-year-old daughter Emma live in Atlanta.
On January 28th, Emma went from being perfectly normal, to uncontrollably jerking her head and arms.
"I would say her body is out of control," said Heather.
On the exact same day, Pamela Sturm of North Carolina was alarmed when her 17-year-old daughter Lilly woke up from a nap and started twitching.
"It breaks my heart," said Pamela.
"She hasn't been able to attend school, its embarrassing," said Pamela.
Rene Erdem and her daughter Julia live across the country in San Diego.
Overnight, Julia began sneezing 8,400 times a day. Her mom heard it all.
Referring to remarks others made, Rene said, "[People said] 'Crazy,' 'Your daughter's making it up,' 'She's faking it,' 'How can it really be?' 'It must be allergies.' "
Lynn Johnson is the founder of the PANDAS resource network. PANDAS is short for Pediatric Auto-immune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus.
"They are desperate. They want answers, they're angry," said Johnson.
Strep can cause the condition by attacking the brain, triggering the tics.
What's still baffling is why some children get it and others don't, and why the symptoms vary so greatly.
The malady is not contagious. Dr. Dennis Bouboulis, a leading immunologist says Lyme disease, bacteria, and vaccines can also cause the condition.
Fortunately, Dr. Baboulis says it can be treated with antibiotics.
"The cure rate is very high if you catch it early," said Dr. Bouboulis.
That's good news for these young girls—and their anxious moms.
"There's hope. There's definitely hope," said Johnson.
For more information on PANDAS, please see www.pandasresourcenetwork.org.