Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a condition that affects the brain and spine. It is a gradual break down of nerve cells from constant swelling.
When left untreated, SSPE almost always leads to death. Contact your doctor right away if you think you or your child may have this condition.
Central Nervous System
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SSPE is caused either by an altered form of the measles virus or an abnormal immune response to measles. It occurs anywhere from 2-10 years after contracting measles.
Factors that may increase the risk of SSPE include: Age: 5-15 years oldGender: maleMeasles infection in infancyNot being vaccinated against measles
Arabs and Sephardic Jews have an incidence that is six times higher than Ashkenazi Jews.Caucasians have a four-fold higher incidence than African Americans in the United States.
Symptoms of SSPE may include: Abnormal behaviorIrritabilityLoss of intellectual abilitiesMemory lossInvoluntary movementsSeizuresInability to walkSpeech impairment with poor understandingDifficulty swallowingBlindnessMutenessLoss of consciousness
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan. Treatment options include:
With advanced disease, tube feedings and nursing care may be necessary.
Anticonvulsant medications can reduce some symptoms of SSPE. In addition, there is some evidence that certain medications may help stabilize the disease and/or delay its progression. These may include: Inosine pranobexInterferon alphaInterferon betaRibavirin
The best way to prevent SSPE is to get immunized to avoid contracting measles. The measles vaccine is generally given at 12-15 months of age and again at 4-6 or 11-12 years. If you have not been vaccinated, avoid contact with people who are infected with measles until all of their symptoms are gone.
Campbell H, Andrews N, Brown KE, Miller E. Review of the effect of measles vaccination on the epidemiology of SSPE.
Int. J. Epidemiol
Last reviewed May 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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