Women in the United States and their doctors have been struggling with a newly discovered brain disease that attacks mainly young women. It has been recently reported that hospitalized women in Philadelphia have had seizures and appeared possessed, crying or laughing hysterically one moment and turning catatonic the next. The women have been diagnosed with an autoimmune illness discovered six years ago called Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis.
One doctor explained that the illness strikes the brain with antibodies and causes it to swell. A woman who was hospitalized for weeks says, "He told them her brain is on fire." A spinal fluid test can spot the disease and immunotherapy can treat it. There is no known cure, however, and all patients face possible relapses. A former patient is trying to get the word out that, "there could be people in comas right now or people stuck in psych wards that have this disease and aren’t being treated properly."
Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis was first recognized as a paraneoplastic syndrome in young women with ovarian teratoma. Studies have shown that about 40% of the patients with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis do not have a clinically detectable tumor, and that men and children are also affected. What may trigger the disorder, especially in patients without an associated neoplasm is unknown.
A 15-year-old female patient was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis after receiving a booster vaccination against tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis and polio (TdaP-IPV). The unique pattern of clinical symptoms led to the consideration of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The diagnosis was confirmed by the detection of anti-NMDAR antibodies in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. Other possible causes of encephalopathy including intoxication, infectious and metabolic diseases were ruled out and repetitive brain scans showed no abnormalities. After the diagnosis was confirmed, an extensive tumor search took place and a biopsy of a prominent ovarian cyst revealed no teratoma. The onset of prodromal symptoms shortly after the immunization suggests that the vaccination was a possible trigger of the anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. See: (http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/07/anti-nmda-receptor.html)
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