Febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome (FIRES): a nonencephalitic encephalopathy in childhood

Epilepsia. 2010 Jul;51(7):1323-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2010.02535.x. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


Encephalitis is generally presumed, even when seizures follow banal febrile infection, and pathogen detection in cerebrospinal fluid fails. This retrospective multicenter case series reports on 22 previously healthy children aged 3-15 years (median 6.5 years) with prolonged or recurrent seizures occurring 2-14 days (median 5 days) after fever onset (19 children with respiratory or nonspecific infections). Cerebrospinal fluid studies revealed 2-42 cells/microl (median 5 cells/microl) and no pathogens. Electroencephalography showed diffuse slowing or multifocal discharges. Neuroimaging demonstrated normal findings in 10 children. Brain biopsies were performed in seven children showing gliosis but no inflammation. Anesthetic barbiturates were used in 14 children with refractory status epilepticus, and immunotherapy in 9. Two children died, eight remained in a state of impaired consciousness, eight developed therapy-refractory epilepsies, two had behavioral disturbances, and two recovered. The lack of evidence for encephalitis suggests another infection-related pathogenesis of this disastrous epileptic encephalopathy. Therefore, we propose the term "febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome" (FIRES).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Central Nervous System Infections / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Central Nervous System Infections / complications
  • Central Nervous System Infections / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Encephalitis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Encephalitis / complications
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Female
  • Fever / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Fever / complications
  • Fever / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures, Febrile / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Seizures, Febrile / diagnosis*
  • Seizures, Febrile / etiology
  • Syndrome