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Encephalitis Lethargica – Causes and Symptoms of Encephalitis Lethargica

Encephalitis Lethargica is a state of prolonged unconsciousness, also called as sleeping sickness. The condition is “an inflammation of brain that makes you tired”. This disease affects the brain of the person, leaves him in a state of motionless and speechless. This is a typical form of Encephalitis.

The condition is fatal and is transmitted from one person to another by a tse-tse fly. This condition swept around the world in between the period of 1917 and 1928. Though it occurs globally, it is mostly prevalent in Africa.

Causes of Encephalitis Lethargica

The exact and appropriate cause for Encephalitis Lethargica are not known. Here are few researches which explain the cause of the disease. The research shows that the people suffering from the disease had suffered prior from pharyngitis.

  • Researchers assumed that the main cause for Encephalitis Lethargica is a virus or an infection. Right now, there’s no good evidence to suggest the particular type of organism responsible.
  • In a mean while researchers have suggested that Encephalitis Lethargica is an auto-immune disease. The body’s immune system, in response to a a throat infection, attacks the nervous system . Thus leading to this condition.
  • Research showed that during the illness, basal ganglia and mid-brain become inflammed. Only the antibrain antibodies were found and no viruses have been found. Hence, it was clear that the body’s immune cells are attacking the nerve cells but not the viruses.

Symptoms of Encephalitis Lethargica

As the disease progresses, the conditions worsen. The following are the symptoms observed at different stages of the disease.

  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Sore throat
  • Intense muscle pains
  • Disturbance of eye movements
  • Double vision
  • Tremors
  • Strange body movements
  • Lethargy
  • Drowsiness
  • Parkinsonism
  • Muscular pains
  • Upper body weakness
  • Behavioural changes
  • Slowing of physical and mental response
  • Person may turn psychotic
  • As the disease progresses, the affected person may even enter a state of coma which lasts for months to years

Some people may even develop Parkinson’s disease while recovering from Encephalitis Lethargica. The symptoms produced are abnormal muscle movements, tremors and slowness.

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