The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of influenza-related encephalitis in Sweden during 11.5 years. Studies from Japan report an increased incidence of influenza-related encephalitis/encephalopathy. Few other studies are available. We conducted a retrospective register-based study on the Swedish National Inpatient Register, which covers all Swedish hospitals. In 1987-1998, a total number of 14,250 hospitalized individuals had an influenza diagnosis (population incidence: 137 per million person-years). In-hospital mortality was 4.1%. Using three different approaches, only 21 cases of influenza-related encephalitis were found, corresponding to a rate of 1.5 per 1,000 hospitalized persons with an influenza diagnosis (population incidence 0.21 per million person-years). We conclude that encephalitis following influenza occurs rarely, or is an infrequently recognized, diagnosed or reported complication. The cases we studied in detail have all recovered without sequels.
Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.