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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Encephalitis lethargica

Other Names for this Disease
  • Von Economo’s disease
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Your Question

When I was about 8-years-old, I was hospitalized due to encephalitis lethargica. I was extremely ill and it took me a long time to recover. Last May, I was diagnosed with a benign meningioma. Could my childhood illness be related to the development of my tumor? Are there any documented cases of meningioma in other survivors of encephalitis lethargica?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is encephalitis lethargica?

Encephalitis lethargica is a disease characterized by high fever, headache, double vision, delayed physical and mental response, extreme tiredness (lethargy), and sometimes coma. Patients may also experience abnormal eye movements, upper body weakness, muscule pain, tremors, neck rigidity, and behavioral changes including psychosis. A world-wide epidemic of encephalitis lethargica occurred from 1917 to 1928. The cause of this condition is unknown, and treatment depends on a person's symptoms. Levodopa and other antiparkinson drugs often produce dramatic responses.[1]
Last updated: 10/14/2008

Are there any documented cases of meningioma in survivors of encephalitis lethargica?

After an extensive review of the medical literature, we were not able to find a report of meningioma occuring in a survivor of encephalitis lethargica. If you are interested in searching for journal articles on encephalitis lethargica, you can use the online PubMed database. We have included a sample search on our resource page for encephalitis lethargica.
Last updated: 10/14/2008