Background: Neurologic sequelae, including cognitive deficits, after childhood tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and neuroborreliosis (NB) are not well-characterized. These infections are among the most common affecting the central nervous system in children and can be difficult to diagnose due to vague symptomatology. The aim of this study was to investigate long-term (>1 year) consequences of pediatric TBE and NB as well as the value of markers for brain damage and genetic susceptibility.
Methods: From a previous prospective study, children diagnosed with TBE (n = 8) and NB (n = 12) as well as pediatric controls (n = 15) were followed up by clinical examination, semistructured interview and screening for cognitive dysfunction by the Five-to-Fifteen Questionnaire. The follow-up also included detection of serum autoantibodies against the neural proteins; glial fibrillary acidic protein and myelin basic protein, as well as genotyping of a 32 basepair deletion in the chemokine receptor type 5 gene.
Results: Children diagnosed with TBE displayed significantly more long-term subjective complaints (ie, fatigue, headache and irritability) compared with the NB and control groups. Significantly higher frequency of disabilities was also detected by the Five-to-Fifteen Questionnaire in the TBE group. Both TBE and NB cause consequences (eg, prolonged convalescence, worries and financial loss) for the families. Markers for genetic susceptibility and brain damage had no prognostic values in this cohort.
Conclusions: Pediatric TBE results in long-lasting residual symptoms and neurologic deficits affecting daily life. Vigilance for TBE-related morbidity among pediatricians and long-term clinical follow-up with assessment of cognitive dysfunctions and appropriate interventions seems reasonable for these children.