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It's a concerning medical case from LeRoy High School: officials say several students have begun displaying symptoms consistent with Tourette's syndrome – and apparently, they don't know why.

LeRoy Superintendent Kimberly Cox first reported the incident to parents last week, in a letter sent home with students. The letter did not identify students involved in any way, and Cox assured parents that the school was consulting medical personnel and investigating the matter.

In speaking with WBTA News, Cox said she had no further comment than what was contained in the letter.

We spoke with UMMC neurologist Andwer Hilburger, who specializes in mental functions such as Tourette's syndrome. He explained that Tourette's syndrome is a genetic mental disorder characterized by motor and vocal "tics": twitches, blinks or vocal exclamations that the sufferer cannot control. Tourette's is also characterized by behavioral symptoms like excessive-complusive disorder and attention-deficit disorder. Tourette's sufferers may also be overly aggressive towards others.

Because it's genetic, Hilberger said odds are nearly impossible that the high-schoolers at LeRoy have all suddenly developed Tourette's.

But, Hilburger says the characteristic "tics" may be caused by other things.

"Sometimes they can be related to stress," he said. "A lot of the prescription medications for attention-deficit disorder will cause it, some anti-depressants will...there's also some illegal drugs than can cause it."

Hilburger also said a brain infection such as encephalitis could cause the "tics" to occur. Encephalitis is caused by viruses or bacteria, both of which can be contagious in humans.

Superintendent Kimberly Cox said she had no comment on the possibility of the current case at LeRoy being contagious. When pressed further, Cox replied that she had "no further information on that," and "no information on any other students who have displayed symptoms.”

Cox could not immediately confirm whether more information would be available in the future.

 

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