Pathogen and Antibody Identification in Children with Encephalitis in Myanmar

Maria M. Galardi, Gavin M. Sowa, Cameron D. Crockett, Robert Rudock, Alyssa E. Smith, Ei E. Shwe, Thidar San, Kyaw Linn, Aye Mya M. Aye, Prashanth S. Ramachandran, Maham Zia, Anne E. Wapniarski, Isobel A. Hawes, Chaw S. Hlaing, Ei H. Kyu, Cho Thair, Yi Y. Mar, Nway Nway, Gregory A. Storch, Kristine M. WylieTodd N. Wylie, Josep Dalmau, Michael R. Wilson, Soe S. Mar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Prospective studies of encephalitis are rare in regions where encephalitis is prevalent, such as low middle-income Southeast Asian countries. We compared the diagnostic yield of local and advanced tests in cases of pediatric encephalitis in Myanmar. Methods: Children with suspected subacute or acute encephalitis at Yangon Children's Hospital, Yangon, Myanmar, were prospectively recruited from 2016–2018. Cohort 1 (n = 65) had locally available diagnostic testing, whereas cohort 2 (n = 38) had advanced tests for autoantibodies (ie, cell-based assays, tissue immunostaining, studies with cultured neurons) and infections (ie, BioFire FilmArray multiplex Meningitis/Encephalitis multiplex PCR panel, metagenomic sequencing, and pan-viral serologic testing [VirScan] of cerebrospinal fluid). Results: A total of 20 cases (13 in cohort 1 and 7 in cohort 2) were found to have illnesses other than encephalitis. Of the 52 remaining cases in cohort 1, 43 (83%) had presumed infectious encephalitis, of which 2 cases (4%) had a confirmed infectious etiology. Nine cases (17%) had presumed autoimmune encephalitis. Of the 31 cases in cohort 2, 23 (74%) had presumed infectious encephalitis, of which one (3%) had confirmed infectious etiology using local tests only, whereas 8 (26%) had presumed autoimmune encephalitis. Advanced tests confirmed an additional 10 (32%) infections, 4 (13%) possible infections, and 5 (16%) cases of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibody encephalitis. Interpretation: Pediatric encephalitis is prevalent in Myanmar, and advanced technologies increase identification of treatable infectious and autoimmune causes. Developing affordable advanced tests to use globally represents a high clinical and research priority to improve the diagnosis and prognosis of encephalitis. ANN NEUROL 2023;93:615–628.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-628
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


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