Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a progressively fatal degenerative disease of the central nervous system. It is a slow virus infection caused by a genetically altered form of the measles virus. SSPE has been reported from all parts of the world, but in the West it is considered a rare disease with fewer than ten cases per year reported in the United States. One in 100,000 people infected with measles are at risk. Billine et al. suggest that the risk of SSPE in the United States may be tenfold higher than originally estimated due to major resurgence of measles between 1989 and 1991. Widespread immunization has produced greater than 90 % reduction in the incidence of SSPE in developed nations. However, the annual incidence of SSPE is still quite high among developing countries. Saha et al. reported an annual incidence of 21 per million populations in India, in comparison with 2.4 per million populations in the Middle East. A higher incidence has been noted in boys (male/female ratio 3:1), although primary measles infection shows no such sex disparity.
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