LeRoy Teens Appear on "Today Show"

1:59 PM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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LEROY, NY - The story of a dozen teenage girls in LeRoy exhibiting uncontrollable tics has attracted national attention.

This morning viewers heard from two of the students affected on "The Today Show."  Their mothers also spoke about what their daughters are going through.

Thera Sanchez, 17, said her doctor said her symptoms are stress-induced.  Sanchez, who is frustrated and angry, says her symptoms seem to have gotten worse.

Thera's friend also appeared on the show.  Her symptoms were less pronounced.

The girls' mothers say they've requested proof of data and testing from the health department regarding the safety of the school.  They say each girl's individual doctor has done testing, but there has been nothing collective.

Typically, doctors don't like to talk to the media about specific cases, and legally, they often can't; this case is no different. But all the attention-- and what their doctors say is misinformation- has led them to say what they can to calm the community's fears.

Dr. Laszlo Mechler is Vice-President of the DENT Nuerologic Institute as well as one of the first doctors to meet with the girls. Dr. Mechler and Dr. Jennifer McVige, a pediatric neurologist who is also the teenagers' primary physician, said they wanted to speak on camera to help clear up any confusion.

In an interview Monday afternoon, 2 On Your Side's Sarah Hopkins asked Dr. Mechler, "Specifically, what comments that have been made in the media do you want to clarify?"

Dr. Mechler: Some of the, and its understandable, some of the comments coming from the frustrated parents... I think one is that nothing has been done, we don't know what's going on. These comments. We know exactly what is going on, we know exactly how we should treat it, part of it is just the natural course of the illness."

The trouble is, due to HIPAA regulations, neither the doctors nor the New York State Health Department is able to go into the specifics of the cases or the diagnoses. Officials have said they believe the tics are not being caused by infection, contagious disease, drugs, or anything found in the school environment.

"It's happened before, all around the world, in different parts of the world," said Mechler. "It's a rare phenomenon. Physicians are intrigued by it. The bottom line is these teenagers will get better."

"Its definitely been challenging for everyone involved," said McVege. "These are children who are fabulous people, that I've been working with, some for nine months now. They're real people, you know, they're sensitive, they're high school kids and please just consider their feelings."

Unlike cases involving contagious disease, the diagnosis hasn't been made public; officials say that's because there is no public health risk.

"Dr. McVige and to a lesser degree myself are unable to get into specifics," said Mechler. "We're not doing that to hide anything. We're here to be responsible physicians."

"There's nothing that anyone's going to catch. They're not going to get sick related to this, and I just want people to take that away. There's nothing contagious," said McVige. "Every single one of these patients is a beautiful, wonderful person and I just want them to, get better."

Some of the parents have said they are not satisfied by what the doctors have told them. Jim DuPont says he and a group of about 6 or 7 other families are forming a support group.

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