December 1, 2011
Two Methodist physicians make discovery
By Becky Gillette
Mississippi Medical News
Read this story at Mississippi Medical News.
Two physicians at Methodist’s Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery (CNNR) are making major contributions to the understanding of West Nile virus (WNV), a devastating disease that is a problem in many countries around the world.
Art Leis, MD, a neurologist at Methodist’s Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery (CNNR) and Dobrivoje S. Stokic, MD, director of the CNNR, were the first to discover and report that WNV can attack the motor cells of the spinal cord, causing fatigue, muscle weakness and a polio-like paralysis. The team is now working with researchers at Queens Square in London, U.K., to learn more about the severity of neurological injury associated with the virus.
Leis said what they found is that neuroinvasive WNV infection can cause a form of poliomyelitis that is pathologically identical to the polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s.
“These types of neurological and neuromuscular manifestations of WNV infection should be recognized by physicians and healthcare providers, particularly if these symptoms develop during the summer or early fall,” Leis said. “It continues to surprise me there are a number of physicians who are unaware of the major clinical features of WNV infection. Traditionally, most patients infected with WNV are completely without symptoms. Those who come to medical attention usually develop either a severe summer flu type presentation or what we call neuroinvasive disease. The latter can result in encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain cells, meningitis, which is swelling of the lining around the brain, or poliomyelitis.”