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Rhinovirus-associated acute encephalitis/encephalopathy and cerebellitis

Kyoko Hazama, Takashi Shiihara, Hiroyuki Tsukagoshi, Takeshi Matsushige, Yuri Dowa, Mio Watanabe
Brain & Development 2019, 41 (6): 551-554

BACKGROUND: Rhinovirus is a common respiratory pathogen for children throughout the year; nevertheless, its central nervous system involvement is extremely rare, and only two cases have been reported to date: meningitis and sepsis-like illness.

PATIENT: A previously healthy 2-year-old Japanese boy developed fever, followed by seizures and lethargy. His cerebrospinal fluid cell count and protein level were slightly increased; brain magnetic resonance imaging showed abnormal intensities in the bilateral cerebellar dentate nuclei, which were prominent in diffusion-weighted images. After his consciousness disturbance improved, cerebellar dysfunction became apparent. He was treated symptomatically, without steroids or any other immunosuppressants. He almost recovered within a few months; however, cerebellar atrophy became evident on brain magnetic resonance imaging. Using acute specimens, human rhinovirus A was detected in his throat swab and cerebrospinal fluid.

DISCUSSION: Acute cerebellitis, in which cerebellar inflammation is predominant, is occasionally accompanied by cerebral symptoms, such as consciousness disturbance and seizures. As a causative pathogen, rotavirus is the most common; however, rhinovirus-associated acute encephalitis/encephalopathy and concurrent cerebellitis have not been reported before. Further research, using recent molecular techniques to detect various central nervous system pathogens, including rhinovirus, is needed to delineate the underlying pathophysiology.


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