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Did a Vaccine Cause this Disease?

Did a Vaccine Cause this Disease?

NOT ACTUAL PATIENT ©exopixel/Shutterstock.com
The CDC periodical Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report recently published a case report of an 11-year-old, previously completely healthy boy, a straight-A student, active on soccer and basketball teams, who, in 2012, began to develop progressively severe neurologic symptoms. Four months prior to admission and diagnosis at a tertiary children’s hospital he began to struggle with school, drop items unintentionally, and have difficulty staying awake, even falling asleep once while walking. He developed myoclonic jerks and his coordination deteriorated. Results of initial head MRI and lumbar puncture (LP) were normal. EEG showed some nonspecific bifrontal slowing. Pediatric neurologists were baffled. 

The child’s past medical history was relevant for measles contracted at age 1 year in the Philippines despite a measles vaccine at age 8 months. Family history was negative for any progressive neurologic diseases. His cognitive and motor skills continued to decline. He became aggressive and cried continuously. Shortly before his admission to the hospital, he lost the ability to walk, became incontinent, and no longer recognized family members. A repeat EEG after admission showed diffuse background slowing and disorganization with multiple spikes and waves, a finding characteristic with his eventual diagnosis. Results of a repeat LP and blood work confirmed the untreatable diagnosis. He was sent home and died 43 months later in 2015.

What do you think?

1. Was this child’s disease a vaccine-preventable condition?

A. Yes

B. No 

C. Maybe

2. What blood test(s) confirmed the diagnosis?

A. Autoimmune testing

B. Culture or DNA/RNA amplification testing

C. Specific IgG and IgM testing

D. Microarray testing

Please leave your thoughts below; click here for answers and discussion.

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