Background: Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an inflammatory, demyelinating disease occurring several weeks after viral infection. Enteroviruses have been described as potential triggers of ADEM, but the closely related parechoviruses have not. The objective of the study is to assess the prevalence and disease presentation of ADEM after parechovirus infection in a syndromic surveillance program for pediatric infection/inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS).
Methods: The surveillance was conducted at the Charité Department of Pediatrics in Berlin, Germany, from November 2010 to November 2014. All hospitalized children meeting predefined case criteria underwent highly standardized prospective clinical assessments based on the published case definitions, including for ADEM. Stool samples were independently analyzed by enterovirus and parechovirus real-time polymerase chain reaction at the Robert Koch Institute.
Results: Of 105,557 patients screened, 774 (0.7%) fulfilled entry criteria for CNS infection/inflammation, with 114 cases ascertained as ADEM. Parechoviruses were detected in 2.5% of patients with CNS infection/inflammation, including 1 case fulfilling ADEM case criteria with the highest level of diagnostic certainty.
Conclusions: We report a first case of ADEM after parechovirus infection in a 5-year-old female presenting with acute hemiparesis 2 weeks after a respiratory illness. Parechovirus disease should be included in the differential diagnosis of ADEM.