Surge seen only in Sweden and Finland (Helsingen Sanomet)
Forty one children and young people in Finland who were vaccinated for the H1N1, or swine flu virus last winter have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. In addition, there have been a few cases of the disease in which there was no record of a swine flu vaccination.
Sweden and Finland are the only two countries to report a surge in narcolepsy the same vaccine was used in Canada, where there were only a few cases of the disease.
Narcolepsy has been on the increase in Finland in the past ten years, but not among such young patients. The symptoms of the young victims have been more severe than usual.
“Kataplexy, the sudden loss of muscle tone in connection with a strong emotional state, has not been this common before”, says child neurologist Outi Saarenpää-Heikkilä of the Tampere University Hospital.
“The symptoms are complicated and they are more severe than before. We have to learn how to treat it, because the medicines have not been intended for children, and they should not be used too easily. Older patients suffer most from personality changes - irritability and fits of rage. Going to school becomes impossible for some, and social life becomes more narrow.”
Although the increase in cases of narcolepsy coincides with the vaccines, there is still some question as to whether or not it was actually the cause.
The question was analysed on Monday when families affected by the disease and public health officials met at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The families had little doubt about the connection...