Borna disease virus can be the cause of unidentified encephalitis

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A virus that jumps from shrews ((छछुंदर or chachundar)) to humans could have been causing encephalitis unnoticed for decades in regions where the host shrew lives in the wild.

Eight newly-identified fatal cases of Borna disease virus 1 (BoDV-1) suggest that where the virus occurs in the wild, it could be behind a high proportion of severe and deadly cases of encephalitis, according to results from 56 patients who had developed signs of encephalitis over the past 20 years, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The authors suggest testing for its presence in all patients affected by rapidly evolving central or peripheral nervous system disorders where the cause is unknown and where the patient may have come into contact with the infected reservoir host, the bicoloured white-toothed shrew.

All patients in which the virus has been newly diagnosed died between 1999 and 2019, and they all lived in southern Germany.

All eight patients died within 16 to 57 days of admission.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), is an illness of uncertain cause and has been linked to this disease.

(Source: The Lancet)

Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA