Marianne Fox, the mother of the 17-year-old accused of planning a gunfire-and-explosives attack at West Albany High School, says her son suffers from a rare condition that can trigger obsessive-compulsive behavior.
In a statement issued through her attorney on Monday, Fox said that Grant Alan Acord suffers from Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS).
On Tuesday, mid-valley health professionals said that the condition is rare, features multiple symptoms and can occur in varying degrees.
“It’s pretty uncommon,” said Dr. Tim Blumer of Samaritan Mental Health Family Center, who is board-certified in child and adolescent psychiatry and adult psychiatry. “In my career I’ve seen maybe three people that meet the criteria of PANDAS.”
Frank Moore, director of the Linn County Health Department, said his staff has never run across a case.
“I’ve checked with our crisis staff and developmentally disabled staff and no one can recall ever having had a request for services pertaining to it,” Moore said.
Although Blumer said PANDAS has been around for a long time, it was first associated with strep infections in the late 1990s. He said what is known is that the onset of symptoms occurs before puberty, that symptoms can suddenly worsen and they occur during or after a strep infection. It is thought that PANDAS is the body’s immune reaction to the infection that causes symptoms.
“It should be obvious when it happens,” Blumer said. “The symptoms are acute behaviors that would be recognizable.”
Those symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior and Tourette’s-like motor and vocal actions that include unwanted movements or noises.
The onset could come quickly or within weeks of having a strep infection, although Blumer said there is no definitive timeframe.
“Data is limited on causes and prognosis,” he said. And it varies case by case.
He noted that one person could have a short-lived PANDAS incident that responds to treatment, while another could have a much longer bout that continues as the person grows older.
Treatment involves an acute antibiotic that would be typical of someone with strep. Those types of standard treatments would continue as long as symptoms persist. Other treatments could involve a filtering of the blood or an infusion of immunoglobulin.
The bottom line is that little is really known about PANDAS. Blumer said data is not abundant for causes or treatments.
According to a report in The Oregonian newspaper, Fox had been in contact with author Beth Maloney, whose book “Saving Sammy” dealt with her son and his struggle with PANDAS.
The Oregonian story said Fox and Maloney had been in contact since 2011. Maloney said that Fox was looking to expand treatment for her son beyond antibiotics and was trying to find an insurer to cover additional treatment.
This is in the town right next to me...I was talking to couple of people about this and they think he should go to prision just like anyone else...What do you think should happen to him?