Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a fatal encephalitis manifesting a number of years after a primary measles infection. This disease has become very rare since the introduction of immunisation against measles in 1976.
A 17-year-old boy presented with progressive cognitive disturbances and extrapyramidal symptoms that had developed over a few weeks. He had not been immunised because of his parents’ religious beliefs, and had contracted measles at 4 years of age. An EEG was performed on the basis of clinical suspicion of SSPE, and showed the SSPE-specific, characteristic pattern of periodic complexes as described by Radermecker. The diagnosis of SSPE was confirmed by cerebrospinal fluid examination. Our patient died 4 months after initial diagnosis.
SSPE is still occurring in the Netherlands. The absence of effective treatment underlines the importance of prevention by means of immunization against measles.
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