Virginia Proclaims Oct 9 PANS/PANDAS Awareness Day, Targets Little-Known Illness Afflicting Kids

The Commonwealth of Virginia has officially designated Oct. 9, 2023 PANS/PANDAS Awareness Day, a critical step forward in the fight to help young people suffering from debilitating neuroimmune disorders known as PANS and PANDAS.

Also known as autoimmune encephalitis, these post-infectious disorders are triggered by common viral and bacterial infections, such as strep throat and the flu. The immune system misdirects its response and attacks healthy brain tissue, resulting in life-altering brain inflammation and an array of debilitating symptoms. Early treatment can return patients to their baseline.

The proclamation, issued by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, says that lack of awareness can lead to “misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose many children suffering from PANS and PANDAS and increased costs to taxpayers” if the disease remains untreated.

“Young people affected by post-infectious neuroimmune disorders are taken off their life’s path,” says Dr. Gary Kaplan with the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine. “Many lose the ability to continue schooling or work. There are days they cannot get out of bed and days filled with pain and disability.”

“There’s only so much that physicians can do without insurance approval for prescribed treatments,” Kaplan adds.

Delegate Patrick Hope (D-47), who plans to introduce PANS/PANDAS legislation in the upcoming Assembly, says: “I have dedicated my work to ensuring that Virginia’s most vulnerable populations are protected, and I will continue to do so, by supporting the PANS/PANDAS community and assuring their needs are met and irreparable damage is avoided.”