A strange sleeping sickness, which turns people into living zombies
• A strange sleeping sickness, which turns people into living zombies
At the end of the First World War, the world embraced the terrible attack. It was called sleeping sickness, or - lethargic encephalitis. Millions of people around the world put their symptoms doctors before an unsolved mystery. Some were killed, others turned into living statues, locked in his body as in a trap.
The last hundred years the best minds have tried to give an explanation for this phenomenon and to develop a treatment, but still "sleepy virus" remains one of the biggest mysteries of history.
This disease has spread rapidly around the planet at the same time with the Spanish flu, which, in turn, killed 50 million people. This largely explains the fact that the disease, which killed up to 50 times fewer people, aroused little interest.
Despite the fact that the greater part of the cases known to us from the period following the end of World War I, it is believed that the epidemic started much earlier - in 1915-1916. The first "victim" of the disease were soldiers. At first, the doctors decided that the cause of their unusual symptoms is mustard gas, is actively used during the war. But later they became infected and civil, and the doctors had to admit that it's not in the gas.
Constantin von Economo
First described the disease in 1917, the Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist Constantin von economy. He called her "sleeping sickness":
"We are dealing with a kind of sleepy disease that has an incredibly long duration. The first symptoms usually appear quite sharply, beginning with headaches and feeling unwell. Then, the state of drowsiness occurs, sometimes accompanied by delirium, but the patient is easy to come to life. He gives reasonable answers, appropriate for the situation. This sleepy condition can lead to death - or soon after a few weeks. On the other hand, it may remain unchanged for weeks or even months. Patients vary from the usual drowsiness to profound stupor, and coma. "
Scary fact that the disease was not common symptoms - it is as many-headed hydra that manifest themselves in different ways.
"A third of patients died in the acute stage of sleeping sickness, falling into a coma from which they could not awaken, or to a state of insomnia so intense that they can not be put to sleep by any means. An absolute inability to fall asleep (agripniya) even in the absence of other symptoms inevitably ended in death of the patient within 10-14 days. The severity of these patients (they were destroyed cerebral mechanisms of sleep) showed for the first time and clearly the need for human physiological sleep. Sometimes insomnia is accompanied by constant irrepressible excitement, which bring patients into a frenzy, body and soul rabies. These patients are in a constant state of excitement and movement to the death that comes from complete exhaustion for a week - ten days. "
A few years after von Economo published his observations, a terrifying epidemic began to visit one house after the other, taking the life of one and leaving the other body immobilized.
"The pandemic that raged for a decade, or crippled claimed the lives of nearly five million people before they disappeared - just as suddenly and mysteriously as it broke out. Epidemic lethargic encephalitis abruptly stopped in 1927, "- wrote in his book" Awakening "Oliver Sacks.
About one third of infected died, and about 20% to the end of life in need of professional care. Less than one-third of patients have fully recovered.
The disease affects people of all ages, but the most vulnerable people were between 15 and 35 years. The earliest manifestations of the disease is almost no different from the common cold: fever, headache, fatigue and runny nose. At first, no one had not occurred, that something with which they are confronted, much more dangerous.
During autopsies background saving is defined as the cause of death was the defeat of the hypothalamus. This is a small section of the brain that is responsible for a great many human functions, including sleep. Inflammation due to infection of hypothalamus resulting in damage to this area of the brain, which becomes the cause of death. However, the causative agent of epidemic encephalitis is selected. It is believed that this virus.
While the epidemic never occurred, the disease can strike at any time again. Virologist John Oxford sure that the game is not over:
"I am confident that, no matter what was the cause of the disease, it can strike again. Until we know what was the source of the disease, we can not prevent it if the epidemic will come again. "