If you've ever had strep throat, you've probably prayed afterwards to never become infected with the bacteria again.
The achy feeling in your throat, that pestering cough, and those dreaded tonsil stones are, believe it or not, some of the more pleasant symptoms of the infection.
Two years ago, I contracted the bacterial infection for the first time, and I can say it was one of the most awful experiences of my life. What made it particularly terrible was that it took months until I actually realized I had strep throat, and not a common cold.
Doctors were just glad that the infection didn't spread to my heart, or else things would have taken a turn for the worse.
There are other unusual ways that strep throat can turn deadly, and one mother is hoping her son's story will help to spread awareness.
Corie Entrop from Canada was appalled when her son, Connor, came home from school one day pulling out his hair.
He continued this unusual behavior for weeks, and even started pulling out his dog's fur.
When the concerned mother asked her 10-year-old boy why he was doing that, he couldn't provide an explanation. All he knew was that it felt like the right thing to do.
“It became a constant obsession to the point where he was giving himself bald spots all over his head,” Entrop told local news outlet, CTVNews. “We had to shave his head to keep him from doing it.”
The following weeks didn't prove to be much better. Connor started having panic attacks and acting strangely in school, which they sized up to be due to his ADHD, which he was diagnosed with years ago.
Doctors put the young boy on antipsychotic medication, which seemed to have helped, but Connor continued to act in bizarre ways over the course of a year.
Then suddenly, everything started falling apart...
By Christmastime, Connor was so sick that he was rushed to hospital, and put on antibiotics.
After that, the boy started acting even more strangely at school, but this time, it was a cause for concern.
Entrop told reporters that Connor would stab himself in the arm with a pencil, refuse to answer questions, hide inside lockers, flip over desks, and disrupt the class by running around.
That's not the worst of it.
“He would try to jump out of moving vehicles when I was driving. He was threatening suicide a lot. He would barricade himself into his room and string stuff around his neck trying to choke himself out,” the mother recalled.
The Entrop family had no other choice but to place Connor in a specialized program for children struggling in school because of a medical condition.
That's where Connor received the help that changed his life...
The now 12-year-old boy was diagnosed with a rare medical disorder called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS).
PANDAS mainly occurs in children that are infected with Group A strep (the common strep throat).
According to a paper about the rare disorder published the American Journal of Psychiatry, PANDAS triggers "a misdirected immune response" that leads to the inflammation of the brain.
This happens when a child's antibodies attacks the basal ganglia in the brain, which is responsible for emotion and motor function, rather than the strep infection.
Connor is now on the road to recovery, thanks to this life-saving diagnosis, and his mother hopes that more people know about this disorder.
“It’s like I have my old kid back,” Entrop said, but added that she's worried about her son coming in contact with the infection again.
“We have to be really cautious about not getting him exposed to strep and that’s scary because it’s hard to control that. A strep [infection] for him can result in a psychiatric illness and an episode for him.”
[H/T: CTV News]