From Atlanta, at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases
Four outbreaks of encephalitis in India between 1995 and 1998 have been linked to a strange form of measles.
Although encephalitis is known to be a complication that occasionally follows measles, none of the ill children had a rash, so doctors didn't suspect measles, says epidemiologist Niteen S. Wairagkar of the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
Wairagkar and his team traced the cases of 329 children under age 16 who were hospitalized with high fever, vomiting, neck rigidity, paralysis, and, in some cases, coma. Of these children, at least 150 died, most within a day of hospitalization, he reports. Blood samples from 91 of the sick children revealed active measles in 52 and ruled out several other possible causes.