Other Names for this Disease
- Von Economo’s disease
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Your QuestionWhen 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?
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Encephalitis lethargica (EL) 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, muscle pain, tremors, neck rigidity, and behavioral changes including psychosis. A worldwide epidemic of EL occurred from 1917 to 1928 with more than one million reported cases. Although occasional cases are reported with similar symptoms, EL epidemics have not recurred. The cause of this condition is unknown, but a viral origin is suspected. Treatment depends on a person's symptoms. Levodopa and other antiparkinson drugs may be effective in alleviating some symptoms.
Last updated: 6/7/2016
After an extensive review of the medical literature, we were not able to find a report of meningioma occurring in a survivor of encephalitis lethargica (EL). As the majority of cases occurred between 1917 and 1928, there may be a lack of data in the medical literature reporting symptoms of survivors of EL. 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: 6/7/2016
- NINDS Encephalitis Lethargica Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Website. February 12, 2007; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/encephalitis_lethargica/encephalitis_lethargica.htm. Accessed 6/7/2016.
- Dennis Tappea, David E. Alquezar-Planas. Medical and molecular perspectives into a forgotten epidemic: Encephalitis lethargica, viruses, and high-throughput sequencing. Journal of Clinical Virology. October 2014; 61(2):189-195. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25129855.