Once regarded as an inevitable childhood nuisance, measles may be complicated by an encephalitis, with associated dire consequences. Survivors of this complication are fortunate if they escape severe or permanent brain damage. Although the encephalitis is not a common condition, the frequency of its occurrence justifies the anxiety and concern of physicians and parents. In the March issue of the Journal of Diseases of Children, LaBocceta reports that occurrence of encephalitis in reported cases of measles ranges from 1 in 400 to 1 in 1,000. The disease has a mortality of 11.5% to 32%, as well as a high frequency of various central-nervous-system lesions manifested as arrested mental development, convulsive seizures, behavioral changes, and neuromuscular weakness. The pathogenesis of measles encephalitis is still obscure; the several hypotheses advanced have not passed the acid test.
Treatment of the encephalitis, if for no other reason than it must be given too late,