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Encephalitis: Rare Pre-COVID But…
A Rise in Autoimmune Encephalitis

“An Alarming Increase”

The effects of COVID are still being seen and felt. In Los Angeles, researchers noted a sharp increase in autoimmune encephalitis. It joins other long term COVID effects seen, such as stroke, headache, anosmia or ageusia, and coma. While the incidence rate of autoimmune encephalitis is generally rare—1.2 cases/100,000 people from 2006 to 2015—in Los Angeles from March to August of 2022, of 29 patients with neurologic deficits, altered mental status, or unclear etiology, 12 tested positive: “Ten had positive GAD and/or VGKC antibodies, one had a positive myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody, and one had a positive leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1 protein antibody.” That’s a 41% positive rate!

Study conclusions included:

  • “We may be entering an era of heightened autoimmune encephalitis”
  • “Occurrences may be post-infectious in nature at this point of the pandemic”
  • “Mostly GAD and VGKC antibodies have been identified (10 of them), which may point toward a new direction of research from a molecular mimicry standpoint”
  • In addition:
    • Clinician awareness is of the utmost importance
    • Testing must be increased and made more easily available
    • Test turnaround time must be shortened
    • Expansive treatment must be widely available in order to reverse disease when possible