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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 367

Opsoclonus in scrub typhus

Department of Neurology, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission23-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance30-Jun-2019
Date of Web Publication10-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Divyani Garg
Department of Neurology, Lady Hardinge Medical College, 1009, Electrophysiology Lab, New Delhi - 110001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_230_19

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How to cite this article:
Garg D, Dhamija RK. Opsoclonus in scrub typhus. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2020;23:367

How to cite this URL:
Garg D, Dhamija RK. Opsoclonus in scrub typhus. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 May 26];23:367. Available from:


We read with great interest the article entitled “Scrub Typhus-Associated Opsoclonus: Clinical Course and Longitudinal Outcomes in an Indian Cohort” by Ralph et al.[1] wherein the authors have elegantly described opsoclonus as a rare neurological manifestation of a rickettsial infection, scrub typhus. We have the following additional comments to make on the article:

  1. Opsoclonus is a rare neuro-ophthalmic disorder that affects children more than adults and is characterized by conjugate, involuntary, multidirectional saccadic eye movements, also referred to as “saccadomania,” and pathophysiologically is believed to be due to the disordered balance of the “burst” neurons and “omnipause” neurons dictating saccadic limits, located in the brainstem. Usually a paraneoplastic disorder, especially in children, parainfectious causes of opsoclonus have been uncommonly described. In addition to scrub typhus, some other agents include viruses [mumps, rubella, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein Barr virus (EBV), Coxsackie B, and West Nile virus],[2],[3]Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and bacteria ( Salmonella More Details, Streptococcus, and Borrelia).[4]
  2. The authors have proposed an immune-mediated mechanism led by T2-hypersensitivity reaction targeting self-antigens in culprit sites, which is self-limited. As per this study, the resolution occurred spontaneously over 2 days to 2 weeks. Going by the parable of an immune-mediated process triggered by an infectious agent, such as postherpetic anti-NMDAR autoimmune encephalitis,[5] usual time for development of symptoms following herpes simplex infection is a median of 32 days compared to 11 days in postscrub typhus opsoclonus. Resolution tends to take weeks to months. Rapid resolution of symptoms in this series of patients with scrub typhus seems counterintuitive and suggests additional/novel pathogenetic mechanisms deserving further exploration. It is possible that auto-antibodies only transiently and weakly bind to the self-antigen without causing any modification or damage and detach easily, leading to the fast reversal of symptoms. It is interesting to note that while other complications of scrub typhus have a basis in vasculitic injury due to endothelial invasion,[6] this neurological complication is seemingly favored predominantly by an autoimmune basis, suggesting that multipronged pathogenic mechanisms operate in this condition.
  3. The authors have suggested a role of steroids to shorten the duration of this complication although spontaneous resolution seems to be the rule as per this large study and have pointed out a case where glucocorticoids were administered. High-dose intravenous immunoglobulin therapy has also been used in parainfectious opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome (OMS) and seems to have a better response than steroids although scientific evidence is very limited.[7] In fact, parainfectious and idiopathic OMS responds better to immunoglobulin therapy than paraneoplastic OMS so much so that it has been proposed as a differentiating feature.[8]

Opsoclonus as a distinct entity or in association with other movement disorders is an interesting clinical syndrome and the authors have added an important infectious agent to the list of treatable causes of the syndrome.

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There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Ralph R, Prabhakar AT, Sathyendra S, Carey R, Jude J, Varghese GM. Scrub typhus-associated opsoclonus: Clinical course and longitudinal outcomes in an Indian cohort. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2019;22:153-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
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Handa R, Sood AK, Dhamija RK, Malhotra RC. Viral encephalitis presenting as myoclonus. Neurol India 1993;41:167.  Back to cited text no. 2
Chugh S, Chander Sekhran E, Dhamija RK, Khurana G. Opsoclonus myoclonus–An unusual manifestation of viral encephalitis. Indian Pract 1995;48;775-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Klaas JP, Ahlskog JE, Pittock SJ, Matsumoto JY, Aksamit AJ, Bartleson JD, et al. Adult-onset opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome. Arch Neurol 2012;69:1598-607.  Back to cited text no. 4
Gelfand JM. Autoimmune encephalitis after herpes simplex encephalitis: Insights into pathogenesis. Lancet Neurol 2018;17:733-5.  Back to cited text no. 5
Mahajan SK, Rolain JM, Kanga A, Raoult D. Scrub typhus involving central nervous system, India, 2004-2006. Emerg Infect Dis 2010;16:1641-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
Glatz K, Meinck HM, Wildemann B. Parainfectious opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome: High dose intravenous immunoglobulins are effective. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2003;74:279-80.  Back to cited text no. 7
Bataller L, Graus F, Saiz A, Vilchez JJ, Spanish Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Study Group. Clinical outcome in adult onset idiopathic or paraneoplastic opsoclonus-myoclonus. Brain 2001;124:437-43.  Back to cited text no. 8

This article has been cited by
1 Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome as a Heralding Feature of Scrub Typhus: An Illustrative Case with a Video Vignette
Divyani Garg, Rajinder K. Dhamija
Journal of Movement Disorders. 2022; 15(1): 80
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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