Acute flaccid paralysis and West Nile virus infection

James J. Sejvar, A. Arturo Leis, Dobrivoje S. Stokic, Jay A. Van Gerpen, Anthony A. Marfin, Risa Webb, Maryam B. Haddad, Bruce C. Tierney, Sally A. Slavinski, Jo Lynn Polk, Victor Dostrow, Michael Winkelmann, Lyle R. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations

Abstract

Acute weakness associated with West Nile virus (WNV) infection has previously been attributed to a peripheral demyelinating process (Guillain-Barré syndrome); however, the exact etiology of this acute flaccid paralysis has not been systematically assessed. To thoroughly describe the clinical, laboratory, and electrodiagnostic features of this paralysis syndrome, we evaluated acute flaccid paralysis that developed in seven patients in the setting of acute WNV infection, consecutively identified in four hospitals in St. Tammany Parish and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi. All patients had acute onset of asymmetric weakness and areflexia but no sensory abnormalities. Clinical and electrodiagnostic data suggested the involvement of spinal anterior horn cells, resulting in a poliomyelitis-like syndrome. In areas in which transmission is occurring, WNV infection should be considered in patients with acute flaccid paralysis. Recognition that such weakness may be of spinal origin may prevent inappropriate treatment and diagnostic testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)788-793
Number of pages6
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Volume9
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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