Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

June 15

Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Vitus (patron saint of dogs, dancers, epileptics, actors, and those afflicted with Saint Vitus dance and he is also is a protector against storms and snakebites), Saint Hesychius, Saint Tatian Dulas, Saint Orsieius, Saint Landelinus, Saint Edburga of Winchester, Saint Bardo, Saint Aleydis or Alice, and Saint Germaine of Pibrac.


Saint Vitus Dance or Sydenham Chorea

No one knows how it started, but some 16th century Germans believed they could obtain a year's good health by dancing before the statue of Saint Vitus on his feast day. This dancing developed almost into a mania, and was confused with Sydenham chorea, the condition later known as Saint Vitus dance.

The following is from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website:

What is Sydenham Chorea? Sydenham chorea, also called St. Vitus dance, is a childhood movement disorder characterized by rapid, irregular, aimless, involuntary movements of the muscles of the limbs, face, and trunk. The disorder, which is considered a manifestation of rheumatic fever (streptococcal infection), typically has an onset between the ages of 5 and 15. Girls are affected more often than boys. The symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly, and may include muscle weakness, hypotonia (decreased muscle tone), and clumsiness. The symptoms vary in severity--from mild cases in which there is restlessness, facial grimacing, and a slight degree of incoordination of movements, to severe cases involving involuntary movements that incapacitate the child. The disorder may strike up to 6 months after the fever or infection has cleared. The chorea is believed to result from an autoimmune mechanism that occurs when the streptococcal infection causes the body to make antibodies to specific brain regions.

Is there any treatment? There is no specific treatment for Sydenham chorea. Treatment is symptomatic and may include bed rest, sedatives, and the drug diazepam for controlling movements. Penicillin may also be prescribed for treatment of the fever or infection. Penicillin prophylaxis is often prescribed to avoid further infections with streptococcal bacteria.

What is the prognosis? Generally the prognosis for patients with Sydenham chorea is good, and complete recovery often occurs. The duration of the disorder varies, with the average case lasting 3 to 6 weeks. Occasionally the course may be prolonged for several months.

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Marilyn Jones 2001-2006