In December 1998, one day she came from school without one chappal. When inquired she said she was not aware of it. Upon further checking her father saw, only lines in her note book. She then reported of total loss of vision. After this, it was noted that she had started tripping often.
Another CT scan was done in early 1999 which again did not reveal any abnormality. She was misdiagnosed for ‘Conversion Reaction Disorder of Eyes’. Later on, in mid 99, a MRI investigation and an EEG report confirmed the clinical possibility of SSPE.
The slow incubation period of the disease makes it difficult to be diagnosed at an earlier stage.
She lost her sense of hunger, thirst and other biological needs, and became dependent on family members for all of them.
Initially, it was difficult for her parents to accept this disease. More so, because they themselves belonged to the medical profession. Later on, there was more acceptance, and when the case was reported in a local daily, there was a sympathy wave which gave the family immense social support to overcome this trauma.
- Even after knowing the proper cause, prognosis is not good.
- The illness is undetectable, misleading and sometimes misdiagnosed.
- Impairment related to visual perception, motor co–ordination, maintaining body balance, and grave psychological deterioration are observed with regard to intelligence, emotional expressions, memorization and reasoning.
- It disturbs the family setup and emotionally traumatizes the entire family. The reason being the unavoidably slow death of a very young child.
On the basis of the present case study, the following suggestions and implications have been put forward.
- In order to create an awareness in society, as a preventive measure, we can arrange extensive and intensive programs with the help of the print media, radio, television, the Internet, posters, house to house campaigns, seminars, symposia, conferences etc., regarding the hazardous effects of simple diseases like measles which are related to the dysfunction of the central nervous system.
- Control of Subacute Sclerosing Pan Encephalitis, will need to be based on the knowledge of complex factors interacting to produce this defective measles infection.
- In order to obtain complete reporting, health care providers and public health personnel are encouraged to report all suspected cases to the registry.
I hereby take the opportunity to thank Dr. Jatin Shah (MD Psy.) Baroda, for having introduced me to the Dipali and her family.
Second, Dr. Ramesh Parekh, Dipali’s father for granting me the permission to take up her case for study.
Finally, I would sincerely thank Dr. Purandare, Professor in Psychology, M S University, Baroda, for her valuable guidance in this study.
Gauri Tembe MA (Psychology),
Presented as a poster at the Indian Science Congress held at Pune, from the 3rd to the 7th of January 2000 in the Psychology and Educational Sciences department.