IN 1933, Dawson1 described a rare form of encephalitis which was typified by intranuclear inclusion bodies. Since that time, a number of reports have appeared stressing clinical and neuropathologic features which we now recognize as characteristic. It is a disease of childhood and young adulthood, usually beginning with personality changes, followed by myoclonic seizures, progressive mental and motor disability, leading to death in about six months. The major neuropathologic changes are seen in the cerebral cortex and subjacent white matter and consist of neuronal loss, demyelination, perivascular lymphocytic infiltration and gliosis, in addition to cytoplasmic and nuclear inclusions within neuroglia and neurons. In the past this illness has been reported under a number of terms including Dawson's disease, Van Bogaert's disease, subacute sclerosing leukoencephalitis, nodular panencephalitis, and diffuse encephalitis with sclerosing inflammation of the hemisphere white matter2; it is now called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE).
Although focal retinal
Landers MB, Klintworth GK. Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE): A Clinicopathologic Study of the Retinal Lesions. Arch Ophthalmol. 1971;86(2):156–163. doi:10.1001/archopht.1971.01000010158008
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: