Varicella zoster and Borrelia burgdorferi are the main agents associated with facial paresis, especially in children

J Clin Virol. 2003 Jul;27(2):146-51. doi: 10.1016/s1386-6532(02)00169-5.


Background: The etiology of facial paresis (FP) often remains unresolved. Yet, a microbial association is frequently suspected.

Objective: To evaluate the infectious etiology of FP by using sensitive tests.

Study design: We studied the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of 42 patients diagnosed with idiopathic peripheral facial paresis using sensitive serological methods and nucleic acid detection and for reference, 42 patients with other neurological disorders (OND) matched for age, sex, season and geographical area.

Results: Varicella zoster virus and Borrelia burgdorferi accounted for 56% of all associated agents in children with FP compared with 11% of OND (P=0.01). In adults, the respective numbers were 29 and 13%. Other treatable etiological agents, Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, accounted for 11% in children and 8% in adults and with the same prevalence between patients with FP and OND.

Conclusions: Microbes, with specific therapy available accounted for 52% of all associated agents in the patients with FP when compared with 26% in controls with OND (P=0.04). Based on this, we conclude that the patients with FP may benefit from antimicrobial therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / immunology
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Facial Paralysis / blood
  • Facial Paralysis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Facial Paralysis / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / immunology
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / isolation & purification


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • DNA, Viral