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Influenza-Associated Acute Necrotizing Encephalopathy in Siblings
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc
  • Description:
    Encephalopathy is an important complication associated with influenza, most frequently observed in young children, with a wide range of severity. The most severe category of influenza-associated encephalopathy (IAE) is acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE), characterized by high frequency of neurologic sequelae and fatal outcomes. We report two young siblings who developed fever and seizures with altered mental status. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infection was identified in upper respiratory tract specimens from both patients, and neuroimaging revealed bilateral inflammatory lesions, consistent with acute necrotizing encephalopathy. Neither child had received influenza vaccination. Both children progressed to critical illness and required invasive mechanical ventilation. In addition to critical care management, both patients received high-dose corticosteroids, mannitol, anticonvulsants, and antiviral treatment of influenza. The older child recovered fully and was discharged 2 weeks after illness onset, but the younger sibling developed severe brainstem edema and cerebellar tonsillar herniation, and died on illness day 11. Both children tested positive for Ran Binding Protein 2 (RANBP2) gene mutations. RANBP2 is a genetic polymorphism associated with recurrent episodes of necrotizing encephalitis with respiratory viral infections. Annual influenza vaccination is especially important for ANE survivors, with or without RANBP2 mutations, their household contacts, and caregivers. During influenza season, close monitoring of any child with a history of neurological complications associated with respiratory illness is indicated, with prompt initiation of antiviral treatment with onset of acute respiratory illness, and influenza testing performed by molecular assay.
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