Japanese encephalitis (JE) is the most common human endemic encephalitis, prevalent mainly in Southeast Asia. It affects both adults and children in different areas, but there is no comparative study of their clinical features and outcomes.
To evaluate clinical and radiological features in adults and children with JE.
Patients with serologically or virologically confirmed JE who were treated during the past 10 years were included in this study. All patients underwent a detailed neurological examination, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging. The presence of movement disorders, anterior horn cell involvement, and electroencephalographic changes was noted. After 6 months, each patient's outcome was defined as poor, partial, or complete recovery. The clinical and radiological findings for both adults and children were compared using χ2 tests.
The results are based on 30 children and 37 adults. Seizure was present in 23 adults (62.2%) and in 17 children (56.7%). Three children had associated neurocysticercosis, and all of them had partial seizures. The occurrence of focal neurological deficit, anterior horn cell involvement, and parkinsonian features was not significantly different between adults and children. Dystonia was more common in children, occurring in 20 (66.7%) compared with 7 adults (18.9%). Six adults died, but none of the children did; however, the 6-month outcome was better for surviving adults compared with the children. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging findings were not significantly different between the 2 groups.
Children with JE are more likely to have dystonia and a poor outcome at 6 months compared with adults. The difference in clinical findings and outcome in children and adults with JE may be owing to immunological factors, maturation of the central nervous system, and neuronal plasticity.