Miller Fisher syndrome and polyneuritis cranialis in COVID-19

Neurology. 2020 Aug 4;95(5):e601-e605. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009619. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


Objective: To report 2 patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) who presented acutely with Miller Fisher syndrome and polyneuritis cranialis, respectively.

Methods: Patient data were obtained from medical records from the University Hospital "Príncipe de Asturias," Alcalá de Henares, and the University Hospital "12 de Octubre," Madrid, Spain.

Results: A 50-year-old man presented with anosmia, ageusia, right internuclear ophthalmoparesis, right fascicular oculomotor palsy, ataxia, areflexia, albuminocytologic dissociation, and positive testing for anti-GD1b-immunoglobulin G antibody. Five days previously, he had developed a cough, malaise, headache, low back pain, and fever. A 39-year-old man presented with ageusia, bilateral abducens palsy, areflexia, and albuminocytologic dissociation. Three days previously, he had developed diarrhea, a low-grade fever, and poor general condition. Oropharyngeal swab test for SARS-CoV-2 by qualitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR assay was positive in both patients and negative in the CSF. The first patient was treated with IV immunoglobulin and the second with acetaminophen. Two weeks later, both patients made a complete neurologic recovery, except for residual anosmia and ageusia in the first case.

Conclusions: Our 2 cases highlight the rare occurrence of Miller Fisher syndrome and polyneuritis cranialis during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These neurologic manifestations may occur because of an aberrant immune response to COVID-19. The full clinical spectrum of neurologic symptoms in patients with COVID-19 remains to be characterized.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ageusia / etiology
  • Ageusia / physiopathology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / physiopathology*
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / etiology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / immunology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Gangliosides / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Miller Fisher Syndrome / etiology
  • Miller Fisher Syndrome / immunology
  • Miller Fisher Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Neuritis / etiology
  • Neuritis / immunology
  • Neuritis / physiopathology*
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / physiopathology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / physiopathology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spain


  • Gangliosides
  • ganglioside, GD1b