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Epidemiol Infect. 1992 Jun;108(3):547-53.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) in Papua New Guinea: a high incidence in young children.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia.


Eighty-seven cases of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) were diagnosed from September 1988 to April 1991 in Papua New Guinea (PNG), by demonstration of high-titre measles-specific antibodies in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). For 1990 the annual incidence of SSPE, for the study provinces, was calculated to be 56 cases per million under 20 years of age and it is expected that this figure will be higher in 1991. The mean age of presentation was 4.9 years, with a male to female ratio of 1.8:1. An elevation in the ratio of immunoglobulin G as a percentage of total protein in CSF and an increase in the CSF:serum immunoglobulin G ratio was shown in SSPE patients. The dramatic appearance and high frequency of the disease in PNG might relate to the early age of measles infection encountered in children in this country.

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