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Original Contribution
March 21, 1964

Epidemic Neuromyasthenia: Outbreak in a Convent in New York State

Author Affiliations

Albany, NY,; Boston

Dr. Albrecht is director of the Office of Epidemiology of the New York State Department of Health; Dr. Oliver, formerly epidemiologist at the same office, is now resident physician at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Albany Medical Center Hospital. Dr. Poskanzer is research associate in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and is also assistant neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

JAMA. 1964;187(12):904-907. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060250022005

An unusual, nonfatal illness characterized by a prolonged, relapsing course occurred over a seven-month period in 26 of 69 nuns (38%). Symptoms were fatigue, weakness, low-grade fever, nausea, headache and pain in trunk or limbs, emotional instability, depression, impaired thinking, and paresthesias. Abnormal laboratory findings in a few cases included elevated spinal-fluid cell counts, relative lymphocytosis in the peripheral blood, and elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Marked creatinuria was found in four patients studied for this abnormality. Abnormal creatine excretion suggests that muscle involvement is an important and objective finding.

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