STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Rare Condition Triggers Behavioral Disorders In Cases Of Strep Throat

It's that time of year again. Not the holidays, but strep throat season.It's a common and painful infection fo...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 10:51 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 10:51 AM

It's that time of year again. Not the holidays, but strep throat season.

It's a common and painful infection for young kids that's usually cured by antibiotics. But for a few children, strep can trigger bizarre behavioral disorders such as severe tantrums, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even tics.

It's a rare complication caused by an immune system that attacks the strep bacteria and the child's brain. The Markowitz family says their son went from being happy-go-lucky to a totally different kid seemingly overnight.

Saul and Bonnie say they remember the day their world changed forever in February 2007.

"It was almost psychotic," Bonnie said.

Their son Brandon was five and a half when he suddenly changed, showing tantrums that couldn't be controlled and debilitating OCD.

His parents say Brandon just wasn't being Brandon.

"One day he's doing his thing really happy and wanting to go out and do his thing, and suddenly the next day he wakes up and we aren't sure what's going on," Saul said.

Doctors say it's because of a strep infection Brandon had developed PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections.

"What that basically means is a child gets an infection and the antibodies to that infection end up attacking the brain instead of the germs," PANDAS expert Dr. Elizabeth Spaar said.

A new documentary called "My Kid is not Crazy" tells the stories of several families whose children suffer from the violent outbursts, tics, and tantrums from PANDAS.

Even though PANDAS is estimated to affect one in 200 children, the condition is often misdiagnosed. Antibiotics are the standard of treatment.

"For the kids where it isn't caught early and misdiagnosed, there can be lifelong effects from it, unfortunately," Dr. Spaar said.

Brandon's case was caught early, and his parents say he's doing well thanks to even more advanced treatments like IVIg, or intravenous immunoglobulin, where the immune system is given a boost with healthy donor antibodies.

While many children have tantrums, OCD, and tics, what makes it PANDAS is the sudden and dramatic onset of the symptoms in a closely related timeframe to a strep infections.

While most cases get better with antibiotics, symptoms can take weeks to go away and many kids relapse.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 399513

Reported Deaths: 32283
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City21805223247
Nassau421642188
Suffolk418491991
Westchester351831432
Rockland13683668
Orange10810484
Erie7624639
Dutchess4255152
Monroe4074273
Onondaga3050188
Albany2183121
Ulster185186
Oneida179198
Sullivan146048
Putnam134863
Niagara131590
Schenectady84837
Broome77060
Rensselaer58630
Saratoga58517
Columbia48237
Madison36817
Ontario29033
Orleans28654
Warren27333
Steuben27241
Fulton26324
Greene26318
Washington24814
Genesee2445
St. Lawrence2272
Oswego2113
Wayne1953
Herkimer1824
Tompkins1800
Chenango1635
Chautauqua1527
Tioga15124
Chemung1482
Livingston1408
Cattaraugus1316
Montgomery1254
Cayuga1242
Clinton1074
Wyoming995
Jefferson950
Delaware914
Otsego865
Seneca730
Allegany641
Schoharie610
Cortland550
Essex510
Yates486
Franklin340
Lewis310
Schuyler130
Hamilton60
Unassigned00
Utica
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Oneonta
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 69°
Herkimer
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Thendara
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 74°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
Menu 2 Go list of takeout dinners & fish fries
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left