Erin Brockovich: Research Into Upstate New York Tourette's Case Only Preliminary


Lana Clark, whose 16-year-old daughter, Lauren Scalzo, is another of the 15 students originally afflicted, sought help from a New Jersey neurologist who volunteered to come and see the girls. He offered an alternate theory: PANDAS, a diagnosis used to describe children who have a rapid onset of neurological conditions such as Tourette syndrome or obsessive compulsive disorder after a bacterial infection such as strep throat.

Doctors are not sure exactly how one causes the others, but some believe it is an autoimmune response. Clark said she trusts the PANDAS diagnosis and wants it investigated further.

"There's a great idea that what has brought on the PANDAs is an environmental issue and the school, they were saying, they did air quality testing within the school but it's like they almost have a refusal to go out and test the soil," Clark said. "We also know with the gas wells and the residue, there's a holding tank, maybe, and it's come out on the ground and killed neighboring trees and plants."

An investigation by the New York Department of Health found "no evidence of environmental or infection as the cause of the girls' illness," department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said. "The school is served by a public water system. ... An environmental exposure would affect many people."

The possibility of an environmental trigger has been bolstered by reports of similar symptoms in two teens living in Corinth, a town 250 miles from LeRoy. The girls started showing symptoms in May, around the same time they passed through LeRoy on their way to a softball tournament in Ohio. At least one has since been diagnosed with Tourette syndrome.

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