Children and Encephalitis Lethargica

A Historical Review

Joel Vilensky, Paul Foley, Sid Gilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Between 1917 and the late 1920s, encephalitis lethargica was an epidemic and often lethal neurologic disease. In adults, it typically elicited severe somatic effects, and in particular, various forms of cranial nerve and motor dysfunction. In children, the psychiatric effects were often as severe as the physical consequences. Approximately one third of affected children underwent a rapid transformation from normal behavior to delinquency, often leading to institutionalization. Many neurologic and psychological theories were advanced to explain these severe behavioral changes, and the therapeutic approaches employed ranged from training in dedicated schools to frontal leucotomy. Whereas epidemiologic associations provide both positive and negative support for an etiologic relationship between encephalitis lethargica and the approximately contemporaneous "Spanish" influenza epidemic, previously unutilized data from children provide some of the strongest links between influenza and encephalitis lethargica. Encephalitis lethargica triggered behavioral changes in children that are not duplicated by any other neurologic condition, with the possible exception of traumatic brain injury. These unique behavioral abnormalities may provide the earliest clear indication of new encephalitis lethargica cases, whether alone or in concert with an influenza epidemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Neurology
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Fingerprint

Encephalitis
Human Influenza
Nervous System
Psychosurgery
Psychological Theory
Institutionalization
Child Psychiatry
Cranial Nerves
Nervous System Diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology

Cite this

Children and Encephalitis Lethargica : A Historical Review. / Vilensky, Joel; Foley, Paul; Gilman, Sid.

In: Pediatric Neurology, Vol. 37, No. 2, 08.2007, p. 79-84.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Vilensky, Joel ; Foley, Paul ; Gilman, Sid. / Children and Encephalitis Lethargica : A Historical Review. In: Pediatric Neurology. 2007 ; Vol. 37, No. 2. pp. 79-84.
@article{04dc2f663b2f42cb90e08a4aa6439adb,
title = "Children and Encephalitis Lethargica: A Historical Review",
abstract = "Between 1917 and the late 1920s, encephalitis lethargica was an epidemic and often lethal neurologic disease. In adults, it typically elicited severe somatic effects, and in particular, various forms of cranial nerve and motor dysfunction. In children, the psychiatric effects were often as severe as the physical consequences. Approximately one third of affected children underwent a rapid transformation from normal behavior to delinquency, often leading to institutionalization. Many neurologic and psychological theories were advanced to explain these severe behavioral changes, and the therapeutic approaches employed ranged from training in dedicated schools to frontal leucotomy. Whereas epidemiologic associations provide both positive and negative support for an etiologic relationship between encephalitis lethargica and the approximately contemporaneous {"}Spanish{"} influenza epidemic, previously unutilized data from children provide some of the strongest links between influenza and encephalitis lethargica. Encephalitis lethargica triggered behavioral changes in children that are not duplicated by any other neurologic condition, with the possible exception of traumatic brain injury. These unique behavioral abnormalities may provide the earliest clear indication of new encephalitis lethargica cases, whether alone or in concert with an influenza epidemic.",
author = "Joel Vilensky and Paul Foley and Sid Gilman",
year = "2007",
month = "8",
doi = "10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.04.012",
language = "English",
volume = "37",
pages = "79--84",
journal = "Pediatric Neurology",
issn = "0887-8994",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Children and Encephalitis Lethargica

T2 - A Historical Review

AU - Vilensky, Joel

AU - Foley, Paul

AU - Gilman, Sid

PY - 2007/8

Y1 - 2007/8

N2 - Between 1917 and the late 1920s, encephalitis lethargica was an epidemic and often lethal neurologic disease. In adults, it typically elicited severe somatic effects, and in particular, various forms of cranial nerve and motor dysfunction. In children, the psychiatric effects were often as severe as the physical consequences. Approximately one third of affected children underwent a rapid transformation from normal behavior to delinquency, often leading to institutionalization. Many neurologic and psychological theories were advanced to explain these severe behavioral changes, and the therapeutic approaches employed ranged from training in dedicated schools to frontal leucotomy. Whereas epidemiologic associations provide both positive and negative support for an etiologic relationship between encephalitis lethargica and the approximately contemporaneous "Spanish" influenza epidemic, previously unutilized data from children provide some of the strongest links between influenza and encephalitis lethargica. Encephalitis lethargica triggered behavioral changes in children that are not duplicated by any other neurologic condition, with the possible exception of traumatic brain injury. These unique behavioral abnormalities may provide the earliest clear indication of new encephalitis lethargica cases, whether alone or in concert with an influenza epidemic.

AB - Between 1917 and the late 1920s, encephalitis lethargica was an epidemic and often lethal neurologic disease. In adults, it typically elicited severe somatic effects, and in particular, various forms of cranial nerve and motor dysfunction. In children, the psychiatric effects were often as severe as the physical consequences. Approximately one third of affected children underwent a rapid transformation from normal behavior to delinquency, often leading to institutionalization. Many neurologic and psychological theories were advanced to explain these severe behavioral changes, and the therapeutic approaches employed ranged from training in dedicated schools to frontal leucotomy. Whereas epidemiologic associations provide both positive and negative support for an etiologic relationship between encephalitis lethargica and the approximately contemporaneous "Spanish" influenza epidemic, previously unutilized data from children provide some of the strongest links between influenza and encephalitis lethargica. Encephalitis lethargica triggered behavioral changes in children that are not duplicated by any other neurologic condition, with the possible exception of traumatic brain injury. These unique behavioral abnormalities may provide the earliest clear indication of new encephalitis lethargica cases, whether alone or in concert with an influenza epidemic.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=34547551442&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=34547551442&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.04.012

DO - 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.04.012

M3 - Article

VL - 37

SP - 79

EP - 84

JO - Pediatric Neurology

JF - Pediatric Neurology

SN - 0887-8994

IS - 2

ER -