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PANDAS and Lyme Disease

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) is a term used to describe pediatric patients who exhibit a myriad of movement and psychiatric symptoms related to exposure to a strep infection. Interestingly, these patients' symptoms often become worse at times during the school year when strep infection in the classroom is rampant, often during the winter months.

Symptoms of PANDAS include Sydenham Chorea movements, Motor Tics, Anxiety, Sensory Motor Deficits, Behavior Regression, Deteriorating School Performance, Depression, Emotional Lability, Urinary Symptoms, Sleep Disturbances, ADHD, Impulsivity, Restlessness, Separation Fears, Night Terrors, Hypervigilance, Eating Disorders, OCD.

Patients with PANDAS often exhibit antineuronal antibodies suggesting an autoimmune component to the condition.

Dr. Charles Ray Jones, a world-leading Lyme Disease pediatrician, and Dr. Marra’s mentor was the first to recognize that these PANDAS patients’ symptoms became much worse if they were exposed to Lyme Disease and coinfections. In fact, Dr. Jones realized that when you treat the Lyme Disease infection, more often than not, the OCD behavior and motor tics would dissipate. In his practice, he routinely checked for strep antibodies and found them to be present in many of his patients.

If the strep infection is severe, patients may need IVIG (immunoglobulin therapy), however, this is very expensive and insurance companies are hesitant to cover it. Nonetheless, when these infections are adequately treated with antibiotics, and the immune system is restored through immunotherapies and probiotics, these children often resume healthy, active lives.

Dr. Marra has been treating PANDAS associated with tick-borne pathogens for more than 18 years with great success.