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August 16, 1952


Author Affiliations

New York
From the Neurological Institute of New York and the Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University.

JAMA. 1952;149(16):1443-1446. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.02930330011004

In the early years of the 19th century there began to appear in European medical journals—especially the French—descriptions of a disease variously known as brain fever, hydrocephalic fever, and, rarely, encephalitis.1 At times the name of Pinel is attached to brain fever, and it may be that he originally described it. In any event he is credited with having differentiated it from meningitis. By the middle of the century no further medical articles appeared, although novelists continued to utilize the disease as dramatic incident until well along toward the end of the century. Early American textbooks of neurology contained no reference to the disease.

This disease occurred apparently almost entirely in children. It is difficult to get a clear idea of the clinical picture, for more than one condition was included in this terminology. Some cases were fatal, and the necropsies usually showed meningitis, most likely tubercular. Some patients