NY Mystery Illness Strikes Chord With Local Families

Carol Daniel

O’FALLON, Ill. (KMOX) –  Two families in the Metro East can identify with the mysterious illness that has caused about a dozen teenage girls in New York to suddenly develop uncontrollable spasms.

But Catherine Dreher and Kim Eplett, both from O’Fallon Missouri, were able to solve their own medical mysteries.

Late last month, Dreher’s 7-year-old son suddenly started displaying physical tics that resembled Tourette’s Syndrome.

“Overnight he just started having really bad motor tics with his head and shoulders, rolling his eyes and coughing,” Dreher explained to KMOX’s Carol Daniel.

She immediately wrote about the problem on her Facebook page.

Kim Eplett, a family friend, wrote back telling Dreher to have her son tested for strep.

That test came up positive and the boy was placed on antibiotics.

Dreher says her son’s symptoms all but disappeared as quickly as they had manifested.

It turns out Eplett had gone through a similar ordeal about three years ago with her then 13-year-old son.

She told her pediatrician about her own father’s battle with strep 70 years earlier which caused him to display involuntary physical movements.

Eplett expressed her opinion that her son might be suffering with something called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS), a brain infection believed to be related to strep.

“He discounted it, said PANDAS pretty much didn’t exist,” Eplett said of her pediatrician at the time.

But eventually, Kim’s son would be diagnosed with PANDAS, as well as Tourette’s.

Anti-biotics are keeping his tics to a minimum these days.

She has some advice for the parents of those New York victims.

“It’s okay to tell somebody ‘I don’t believe you, I want to talk to somebody else’.”

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