We didn't entirely mean for today's episode to be another in the Halloween theme ... we've already talked about a vampire panic, Sweeney Todd, the Bride of Frankenstein and Disneyland's Haunted Mansion (those last two for two episodes apiece). But listener Elin put in a request for encephalitis lethargica, also known as "sleepy sickness." It turned out to be one of the most terrifying things I've ever heard of - an illness that rendered people awake and aware but visibly "asleep" for months, then returned years later to inflict progressively debilitating Parkinsonism, which rendered otherwise young and healthy people virtually comatose. We still don't know for sure what caused it. Pleasant dreams!
Our listener mail two pieces, both about our Luis Alvarez episodes (here's part two). The first is from Vince, who sent us a picture of the Nobel laureate parking at U.C. Berkeley. The other is Sarah, who offers a correction.
For more knowledge: How Sleep Works
Episode link: Encephalitis Lethargica
- Crosby, Molly Caldwell. "Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries." Penguin. 2010.
- Dale, Russell et al. "Encephalitis lethargica syndrome: 20 new cases and evidence of basal gandlia autoimmunity." Brain: A Journal of Neurology. 7/31/2003. http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/127/1/21.full
- Foley, Paul. "A viral infection of the mind? The curious case of encephalitis lethargica." The Conversation. 10/13/2011. http://theconversation.com/a-viral-infection-of-the-mind-the-curious-case-of-encephalitis-lethargica-660
- Sacks, Oliver and Joel A. Vilensky. "Waking to a New Threat." New York Times. 11/16/2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/16/opinion/16iht-edsacks.html?_r=0
- Oxford, John. "On the Trail of a Killer." New Scientist. Vol. 180, issue 2417. 10/18/2003.
- Burns, Stanley B. "The Psychiatric Symptomatology of Encephalitis Lethargica." NeuroPsychiatry Reviews. November 2006.
- Anderson, L.L. et al. "Review: Neuropathology of acute phase encephalitis lethargica: a review of cases from the epidemic period." Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology (2009).
- Adams, John. "I Am Still Here: Life with Encephalitis Lethargica." Oral History. Vol. 23, No. 1, Spring 1995.
- Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Parkinson's Diagnosis Questions." https://www.michaeljfox.org/understanding-parkinsons/i-have-got-what.php
- BBC. "Mystery of the Forgotten Plague." 7/27/2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3930727.stm
- Dourmashkin et al. BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:136 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/12/136