Update: Specialist finds evidence of PANDAS-associated infections in LeRoy samples. In line with his working diagnosis, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment has begun.
Environmental activist Erin Brokovich, who is now investigating the causes of the neurological ‘Tourettes-like’ symptoms of school children in New York State, initially suggested one possibility is a major chemical accident in 1970 near the LeRoy High School – an overturned freight train that spilled a ton of cyanide and 35,000 gallons of the industrial solvent Trichlorethylene. See article – “Erin Brokovich: Cyanide, Industry Solvent May Be Cause of Rare Teen Syndrome in New York.”
Presumably toxins from that spill could be surfacing in water & air around the school, which has at times been plagued by flooding, seepage and standing water. Could it be, after more than 40 years? Health ‘experts’ have labeled the children’s symptoms as essentially mass hysteria – a conversion of stress to physical symptoms they call “conversion disorder.” The parents’ search for a more probing environmental investigation caught Brokovich’s attention, and perhaps time will tell. (Link thanks to XMRV Global Action.)
Apparently the industrial solvent involved in the train spill (Trichlorethylene, or TCE) forms the neurotoxin Dichloroacetylene (DCA) when it comes into contact with alkaline materials, like moist concrete. The LeRoy children became ill last fall shortly after the heavy rainfall and flooding of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Inhaled DCA is known to cause cranial nerve palsies. This is explained on the Age of Autism news site (“Open Letter to the Town of LeRoy, NY: Learn Lessons from the Autism Epidemic,” by Kevin Barry).
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As of February 5, after a preliminary visit to the school, Erin Brokovich’s lead researcher, Bob Bowcock, suggested he doubts the train spill is connected to the students’ illness. That visit was problematic, but he will be making a second visit the week of Feb 20 in hopes of answering some basic questions. (“Brokovich researcher said he feels obligated to finish what he started,” – scroll to the bottom to see his Feb 6 memo to the Superintendent of Schools.) The Brokovich team’s purpose in the investigation is to provide the community with answers, he says, not to find a reason to file a lawsuit against a public entity, which is not what they do.
Meanwhile, Rosario Trifiletti, a doctor at UMDNJ specializing in PANS (Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, which can be caused by a variety of pathogens) has analyzed blood and tissue samples from some of the girls to look for signs of undetected viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.
On Feb 6, Dr. Trifiletti’s report, aired by the Dr. Drew TV show on Feb 6, stated that “five of eight girls show evidence of carriage of Streptococcus pyogenes, and seven of eight show evidence of infection with mycoplasma pneumonia.” He expressly refuted the diagnosis of conversion disorder made earlier by the team at Dent Neurological Institute. (See Dr. Trifilitti’s
“Statement on LeRoy, NY Cluster,” in which he also notes many questions remain in these cases, but “the infectious exposure points the way to rational medical treatment for these children, which is of immediate importance. Such treatment, which involves antibiotics and inflammatory agents, has already begun.”
In turn, Dr. Lazlo Mechtler, one of the Dent researchers, reportedly said they stand by their diagnosis (“Mechtler disputes PANDAS diagnosis for LeRoy girls seen by New Jersey Doctor,” by Howard Owens).
And many opinion writers are weighing in on the side of group hysteria. An opinion piece in the Eldorado County, CA Mountain Democrat, “Something to think about: Tics and teenagers,” that reviews episodes of teen mass hysteria, including the girls who sparked the Salem Witch Trials, and the Tanganyika Laughing Epidemic of 1962. And a DiscoveryNews article, “Strange History: Mass Hysteria Through the Years,” cites the Mad Gasser of Mattoon and the French Meowing Nuns.