LEROY, NY- It seems the spotlight on the illness in LeRoy is slowly starting to fade, and now we're learning that may be leading to a steady improvement in the health of patients.
For weeks Dr. Jennifer McVige of Dent Neurologic institute has seen 15 cases, a dozen of them students, associated with the strange illness in LeRoy. Finally the progress is evident. "There are two of the girls that are all better and there are three more that are just there," said Dr. McVige.
Now she says the big picture of Conversion Disorder and Mass Psychogenic Illness is coming together.
"What we do believe is that there may have been one or two index cases who truly had tic disorder or Tourette disorder and then there was an individual who came after that was most likely good friends with this individual that developed symptoms." Dr. McVige said the likely index case is not one of her patients.
Some of the girls originally believed they didn't have enough stress in their lives to bring on these symptoms but Dr. McVige says now they're starting to come around. "Sometimes people don't even know what it was that really harmed them or that they were keeping inside."
Dr. McVige says treatment includes behavior modification, psychological intervention, and medication. But she says she saw a big improvement in the patients when two weeks ago 2 On Your Side pulled the video of the girls from the air and the web. "Many of the families made a comment that they were thankful that that happened. Many of the national networks followed suit."
Earlier this month New Jersey based child neurologist Dr. Rosario Trifiletti diagnosed eight of the nine girls he examined with a PANDAS-like illness. Treatment of the infection includes an antibiotic. We reached out to Dr. Trifiletti by phone and e-mail for an update on his patients and he didn't respond.
"Many people have gone to see Dr. Trifiletti for the first visit but have not gone back," says Dr. McVige. There's also an offer still standing on the table from the doctor from the National Institutes of Health, Susan Swedo, who coined the term PANDAS to take a look at the patients and do lab work on them free of charge in Bethesda, Maryland. No one has taken her up on the offer so far.
Tuesday a private environmental testing firm began a seven week process of first air then soil testing at LeRoy Junior-Senior High School. The school made the move to provide assurance to parents and students that the building is safe, even though county and state health reports do not show any dangerous environmental or infectious factors.