By the way, most of the diseases are such that they do not take the form of an epidemic but remain visible in some form.
But a hundred years ago a disease appeared in the world that seems to be part of the story of a horror movie because it suddenly disappeared and to this day it is not known what caused it.
The victims of this disease became like a statue and their bodies became prisoners of the mind.
Encephalitis lethargica was hidden in the deadly influenza pandemic around the same time, although it first appeared in Europe and then spread around the world.
Millions of people died as a result of it and many were transformed into living statues and lived their lives in silence, a mystery that has haunted medical experts for decades.
But a century later, the human-sculpted virus is considered one of the greatest medical mysteries in history.
It is difficult to say for sure, but most of the cases were reported after World War I and are believed to have started in 1915 or 1916 with soldiers who suffered from severe fatigue and mental retardation during medical examinations Were very confused.
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At the time, it was thought that these unusual symptoms were the result of a poisonous gas used during the war, but this was later disproved.
When did the disease appear?
The disease was first mentioned in an article by “Constantine von Economo”, a psychiatrist in Vienna, who reported similar cases to the general public.
An article written by him in 1917 stated that we have some kind of sleeping sickness that last a long time and the first symptoms are severe headache and measles, followed by drowsiness for days, weeks, or months. They go into a coma or die when their condition worsens.
Many years after this article, the disease began to spread and millions of people began to die trapped in their bodies.
What was the reason?
Encephalitis lethargica is translated as a brain swelling that makes you tired, but it was known as sleeping sickness.
It sounds funny, but it wasn’t, because at least one-third of its victims died, and the remaining 20 percent were people who needed the care of their loved ones or doctors for their daily activities. And less than a third of the complete recovery.
It affected people of all ages, but most affected people between the ages of 15 and 35.
At the onset of the disease there were flu-like symptoms such as high fever, headache, feeling tired, runny nose, there was no way to find out if a person with flu-like symptoms was suffering from this deadly disease No, it would take a long time for the virus to spread to the brain.
When the virus invades the central nervous system, patients experience severe mental and physical fatigue, as the name implies, sleeping sickness, followed by an increased risk of coma and death.
And those who did recover somehow knew that it was in fact a multi-stage disease.
In the second stage, the patient’s ability to concentrate and lose interest in life would be lost, meaning that the patient’s condition would be very different from his or her past personality.
But this stage was like the calm before the storm, because after that people would become like an idol who would be aware of their surroundings, but would not be able to speak or move anything.
When doctors performed postmortems on those who died from the disease, the main cause of death was inflammation in a specific part of the brain, the part that plays a key role in controlling various functions, including sleep.
More than a hundred years later, the cause is still unknown. One idea is that it may have been caused by the 1918 influenza pandemic, which affected parts of the brain like a flu war.
Some quarters believe the epidemic was the result of the poliovirus.
How was the epidemic overcome?
In fact, there was no miracle of medical experts in it, the disease, which reached different parts of the world for 10 years, suddenly disappeared.
The disease disappeared in 1928 and new cases ceased to be reported, but thousands of people needed care for decades, who were alive but trapped in still bodies.
In 1969, a few such people were treated with levodopa, a new drug developed for Parkinson’s, and their condition improved dramatically. They got out of the wheelchair and regained consciousness.
But a number of such people returned to normal a few days or weeks later, and in 1990 a film was made on it, Awakening, which showed a new drug treatment for people suffering from sleeping sickness, but things got complicated.
Cases of the disease have not been reported since, but in 1993 a 23-year-old woman was hospitalized with a dangerously high brain swelling and doctors were stunned to discover that it was caused by sleeping sickness.
Because the cause of the first outbreak could not be determined, virologist Professor John Oxford re-analyzed brain samples from victims of the first outbreak.
But despite modern molecular tests, they have not been able to detect evidence of viruses in tissues.
Research on this is still ongoing.