Encephalitis lethargica in the soviet union

Joel A. Vilensky, Ravil Z. Mukhamedzyanov, Sid Gilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Although encephalitis lethargica (EL) appeared in epidemic form in the Soviet Union during the 1920s as it did in most of the world, the Western literature, particularly English, contains little information about the manifestations of the disease there. Here we summarize articles by prominent Russian neurologists who wrote about the disease as they viewed it during the epidemic period. As in the West, Russian clinicians found EL to be remarkably polymorphic, although some signs and symptoms, especially those pertaining to the psychological aspects of the disease, seemed to be more prevalent or were described better and perhaps more frequently by these clinicians. Some Russian clinicians emphasized an increased prevalence of EL among Jews and a relationship with illness and trauma, whereas others found strong evidence for contagion, especially in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Encephalitis lethargica, Russia
  • Epidemic encephalitis
  • Von Economo's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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