Economo's Disease

Economo’s disease is more popularly known as encephalitis lethargica, sleeping sickness, or sleepy sickness. Its symptoms include head ache, muscular pains, high fever, sore throat, delayed movement, delayed mental processing, catatonia, and asleep during the day but awake at night. Since this condition targets the brain, some patients may present with neck rigidity, psychosis, postural instability, tremors, and compulsive shouting. In the disease’s advanced stage, a coma-like state may ensue. This was first described by Constantin Freiherr von Economo, an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist, and Jean-Rene Cruchet, a French pathologist, in 1917. The cause of Economo’s disease is still uncertain and the treatment is limited to remediating certain symptoms.

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