Fatal dengue encephalitis in a recruit: lessons learnt
Keywords:Dengue, Encephalitis, Neurotropic
Dengue infections may present within a widely variable spectrum of clinical manifestations. However, neurologic complications in general are rare and unusual. A 19 yrs old healthy male army recruit was brought to a service hospital in South India in a state of unresponsiveness, following 12 km route march. Despite aggressive and prompt management, his condition progressively deteriorated and he finally passed away about 10 hrs after reporting to the hospital. The final cause of death was acute dengue encephalitis with raised intracranial pressure. Epidemio-clinico-pathological correlation in this case led to the conclusion that vigorous exertion with a hyper-metabolic state of fever in a setting of encephalitis led to metabolic injury, multi-organ failure, cerebral edema and intracranial hemorrhage. Encephalitis following dengue virus (DENV) infection is a rare phenomenon with the incidence ranging from 0.5% to 6.2%. Neurological features associated with DENV were first reported by Sanguansermsri et al in 1976. The rare neurologic presentations reported with DENV infection are transverse myelitis, acute encephalomyelitis, myositis, and gullain barre syndrome. As encephalitis caused by DENV mimics that caused by other pathogens it should always be kept in mind while managing encephalitis of unknown origin. Medical officers should maintain a high index of suspicion of DENV encephalitis. Training of medical officers; therefore, needs to be undertaken with regular refresher cadres, besides equipping of all peripheral facilities with rapid diagnostic kits for dengue. The same will ensure prompt detection of cases and timely referral to higher medical centres in chain. The instant case reflects an important, potentially fatal, complication of dengue. Pathophysiology of DENV encephalitis needs to be elucidated on priority through research involving all stakeholders.
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