Lethargic encephalitis is an epidemic disease, the main manifestations of which relate to injury inflicted upon the central nervous system and in particular the basal ganglia of the brain.
Poliomyelitis is an epidemic disease, the main manifestations of which relate to injury inflicted upon the central nervous system and in particular the gray matter of the spinal cord and medulla oblongata.
At the outset of the epidemic of lethargic encephalitis the two diseases tend to prevail at distinct and different seasons of the year, although recently cases of epidemic encephalitis have arisen in the midsummer months. The two maladies therefore are perhaps less distinguished by seasonal prevalence than has been supposed.
They are, however, distinguished by great differences in communicability to monkeys. Epidemic poliomyelitis is readily transmitted through inoculation of the affected central nervous tissues of man to monkeys, while it may still be regarded as doubtful whether lethargic encephalitis has been communicated to monkeys in this manner.
As the experiments reported in this paper show, the two diseases can be distinguished through the power of blood serum under certain circumstances to neutralize the virus of poliomyelitis. The blood serum of convalescent cases of poliomyelitis whether in man or monkey possesses this neutralizing power, while the blood serum of recently convalescent cases of epidemic encephalitis is devoid of it.
On the basis of the distinguishing characters described, it is regarded as desirable at the present time to hold epidemic poliomyelitis and epidemic encephalitis as integrally distinct affections. The latter also may be infectious, yet the main lesions of poliomyelitis are present in the spinal cord, and of epidemic encephalitis in the mid-brain.