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Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following a H3N3 parainfluenza virus infection in a pregnant asthmatic woman with respiratory failure


This case report relates to a 31-year-old pregnant woman, asthmatic, admitted to the intensive care unit with respiratory failure, secondary to a viral community-acquired pneumonia. A type 3 (H3N3) parainfluenza virus RNA was isolated in her throat swab. The patient developed neurological symptoms (behavioural changes, irritability, agitation and impaired consciousness) while being weaned off sedation and ventilatory support. Cerebrospinal fluid was clear with an opening pressure of 26 cm H2O. Brain MRI showed features compatible with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Immune screen and EEG were normal. She was treated with intravenous methylprednisolone followed by oral prednisolone. The patient made an almost full neurological recovery within 4 weeks after starting on steroids. The patient delivered a healthy baby at 38 weeks gestation. This case highlights the importance to keep in mind rare conditions that need early recognition and prompt treatment. Brain MRI is the key to early diagnosis and treatment.

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