It was a sunny day in September 2007 when Garrett Pohlman, then seven years old, came home from school. Crying, he warned his mother that radiation was coming out of the house’s electrical sockets. If they went outside, he said, birds would peck them to death. These pronouncements were accompanied by odd facial movements. The boy would stick his tongue out and jerk his arms and legs. The day before, Garrett had been a normal boy. Both the paranoia and the tics had come out of the blue, but they proved to be the start of a horrifying mental decline.
In the end, Garrett was lucky. A hospital scan three months later revealed a bacterial sinus infection. A course of antibiotics cured the infection and brought about a striking improvement in his psychiatric symptoms. Garrett had been suffering from PANDAS, which stands for Paediatric Autoimmune-Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus.