[Meningoencephalo-myeloradiculitis due to Flavivirus: bi-brachial paralysis and respiratory insufficiency]

Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1995 Apr 1;125(13):634-8.
[Article in French]


3 patients developed rapid onset of fever and nuchal stiffness. Paresis of brachial muscles occurred within 4 days and all patients had respiratory failure that needed mechanical ventilation. At the peak of the disease there were bilateral asymmetrical severe atrophy of brachial, shoulder and neck muscles, cranial nerve pareses and absent or weak deep reflexes in the upper extremities. CSF analyses showed sterile lymphocytic pleocytosis. In 2 cases the patients suffered a tick bite in Switzerland and the third was probably bitten by an insect while opening a package received from Indonesia. Patients had rapid defervescence and serological tests were found to be highly positive for IgM and then IgG ELISA FSME (Frühsommer-Meningoenzephalitis). The patients were ventilated for 2 to 5 weeks before a progressive improvement was seen. However, on follow-up at 12, 18 and 30 months respectively, proximal muscles were still atrophied and quite weak. Our cases underline that: (1) FSME-ELISA results may cross-react with the Japanese and Central European encephalitis virus species; (2) Flaviviruses do induce unusual and preferential long-term paralysis of the upper extremities simulating poliomyelitis; (3) in the 2 patients studied electrophysiologically, there were signs of axonal reinnervation not seen in lower motor neuron syndrome which were important for reinnervation to permit progressive, but late, motor improvement; (4) there is no evidence of extension of the endemic foci of tick-borne encephalitis in Switzerland.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / innervation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flavivirus / immunology*
  • Flavivirus Infections / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningoencephalitis / complications
  • Meningoencephalitis / virology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Radiculopathy / complications
  • Radiculopathy / virology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology