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Biomédica

Print version ISSN 0120-4157

Abstract

URIBE, Carlos Santiago; GONZALEZ, Adolfo L.  and  GONZALEZ, Paulina. Von Economo’s encephalitis lethargica and the Spanish flu pandemic in Bogotá and Medellín (Colombia): An historic review one hundred years after. Biomédica [online]. 2019, vol.39, n.1, pp.8-16. ISSN 0120-4157.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7705/biomedica.v39i1.4677.

Von Economo’s encephalitis is a neuropsychiatric disorder of possible autoimmune origin, which affects basal ganglia. This reaction may occur secondary to infection by different viral or bacterial agents. Given that it appears after the acute episode has disappeared, molecular mimetism has been proposed to explain the autoimmune lesion. Several cases have been reported through time, but it was with the 1918 flu pandemic, known as the Spanish flu, that lethargic encephalitis reached epidemic levels with cases reported until 1923 in various countries.

The Spanish flu pandemic appeared in Colombia at the end of 1918 in several cities but it affected especially Bogotá where the highest number of patients and deaths was reported. Our purpose with the present work was to commemorate the arrival of the Spanish flu to our country after one hundred years, as well as to reflect on its main complications, which included some lethargic encepahilitis cases.

Keywords : Encephalitis; autoimmunity; basal ganglia; influenza pandemic.

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