Acute Cerebellar Ataxia can be caused by a Herpes Simplex Virus, often Varicella-Zoster Virus, the same that causes Chicken Pox & Shingles. The Virus can infect the Cerebellum via catching the virus or via the vaccine per reports. When Acute Cerebellar Ataxia is caused by a virus it is specifically called Post Viral Cerebellar Ataxia. In addition, it has the exact same symptoms as Posterior Fossa Syndrome. This leads to the hypothesis that PFS & Post Viral Acute Cerebellar Ataxia may be one in the same.
In research to understanding and improve Ayden’s Facial Palsy’s among his other PFS symptoms, I found a connection. Seemingly random Acute Facial Palsies are often linked to viral infections. I then looked deeper and found Post Viral Cerebellum Ataxia. It’s been found to have been caused by a viral attack primarily from the Herpes family of viruses.
In research it is often found with the VZV Virus or Varicella-Zoster Virus, the same virus that causes Chicken Pox & Shingles.
Post Viral Cerebellum Ataxia is an attack of the Cerebellum with a Virus and causes the exact same symptoms as Posterior Fossa Syndrome/Cerebellar Mutism. It can include double vision, palsies, mutism, gait issues, ataxia, brain and spine inflammation and many other “stroke” like symptoms and more. It can resolve in weeks, months, multiple years and in unfortunate many cases can have life long ramifications. This strikes primarily immune compromised patients, but may strike those that otherwise look healthy.
Herpes Simplex Viruses are found in 90-100% of brain tumors and the Herpes Virus family can recreate the 10 Hallmarks of Cancer. The Herpes Simplex Virus family is also known to cause the same exact symptoms as PFS in otherwise healthy kids without brain tumors through a Herpes infection in the Cerebellum.
This infection can happen from catching the virus or being infected through the actual VZV vaccine for example. There is also a multi-day to multi-week latency between infection and onset of symptoms (very similar to the delay in onset of PFS symptoms from surgery or up to about 7 days, or sometimes later during heavy chemo when the immune system is the weakest). At any time, the latent virus that has integrated into the Cerebellum for a life-long infection will awaken and cause significant damage in your Cerebellum (intersection of your gross & fine motor control for body among other things).
When researching common symptoms of PFS/Cerebellar Mutism, damage to the Vermis, or walls of the Cerebellum by tumor attachment or tumor invasion has been a potential contributor. First during surgery and general anesthesia , the immune system is responding poorly and thus opening a door for advantageous pathogens. Second, during the resection of the tumor, the tumor has active cancer cells / virus cells. During the surgery, damage to the Posterior Fossa / Cerebellum wall may allow invasion of the Cerebellum of the virus/cancer. Then over the next few days to week+, the virus could attacks the nerves of the Cerebellum and creates Cerebellar Mutism / Posterior Fossa Syndrome. Another hypothesis is that after surgery the negative impact to the immune system wakes up a latent Varicella Zoster Virus Infection in the Cerebellum and it spreads causing an array of PFS or Post Viral Cerebellum symptoms. Since once caught as a child or through vaccine, the VZV virus infects the Cerebellum and Spine and other nerve tissue through the body for a lifetime. Thus, its already in place in the spine and cerebellum to cause PFS like damage if it deactivates due to a depressed immune system.
So Cerebellar Mutism and Acute Post Viral Cerebellum Ataxia may be one in the same with the core similarity being a compromised immune system young in life. For our kids, the cancer treatment contributes to the immune system being heavily compromised opening the window to several pathogenic damaging viruses so near to the original tumor location, this clouding the cause and effect as well as potential treatment options.
Overview of Post Viral Cerebellar Ataxia
Statistics and Overview:
Wikipedia entry on Post Viral Cerebellar Ataxia
Journal of Child Neurology
Cerebellar Mutism Caused by Primary Varicella Infection in an Immunocompetent Child
Cerebellar Mutism – Review of the literature
Cerebellar Mustism Syndrome – A review of PFS
Below is a response to this theory from another forum, I think you will find it enlightening as well:
I just read one of the links you sent re the herpes virus and brain cancers. I find all of this very interesting as my daughter had a weird thing happen soon after her diagnosis.
First I want to tell you that my mother, who was in perfect health but always had HSV1 her whole life and H pylori till the age of 43, died at the age of 65 of colon cancer. Of my 4 brothers and sisters I am the only one who also has the HSV 1.
I have always had outbreaks of the blisters on my lips and a few months after my second daughter was born I had an outbreak of shingles, which is a form of the Herpes Zoster virus. When that same daughter was in Kindergarten a child in another class had chicken pox and they sent a note home telling us to watch our kids. My daughters both had the chicken pox vaccine at a year old so I was not that concerned but the next day after receiving that letter from the school I had an outbreak of chicken pox. I thought it was really crazy because I had already had them as a child. It seems I am very susceptible to this virus. I have often joked around with my husband saying I will probably eventually die from Herpes.
Anyway the thing I find interesting is that Erin was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma in Dec of 2002 and had surgery. She had PFS and a month later she had an MRI that showed the tumor that we thought was confined to her cerebellum was now all over the place. They called it leptomeningeal spread. She was started on a high dose chemo and about three months after starting she had an outbreak of the herpes simplex 1 virus. She had a couple of blisters on her lip and the onc gave us a script for Acyclovir. She took it for 6 days and they thought the virus was gone so they gave her the next dose of chemo. A few days later she broke out in a high fever, her blood counts were zero so we were admitted to the hospital. They started giving her Acyclovir again but the virus started going crazy. She had blisters all inside her mouth, down her esophagus, inside her nose and even at her g tube site on her stomach. The doctor got very nervous now and had her started on some super strong antibiotics/antivirals. They actually told me that she may well die from this infection and suggested we sign a do not resuscitate order.
Over the next three days her blood counts started to elevate again and the fever broke and she started looking better so I guess the heavy duty antivirals they gave her were working. Anyway the strange thing is that her next MRI showed no evidence of disease in her brain. So she went from all these areas of enhancement before the herpes treatment to no evidence of disease after. The doctors had told us that the best we could hope for would be to slow down the progression of the disease and all were shocked by this MRI. I have always thought that this disappearance of the disease may have been caused by the herpes virus, but now I wonder if it was caused by killing the virus or at least weakening it with the high dose antibiotics and antivirals.
I hope that this research goes further and one day they discover the cause of these tumors and are able to cure them. My mother had ulsers her entire adult life. Her doctors always told her they didn’t know what caused ulcers and so just prescribed antacids. They never worked well for her and she had a lot of suffering. When she was in her 40’s she went to a new doctor who told her someone had discovered that ulcers were not caused by stomach acid but rather by a bacteria called H pylori. She was tested and was positive for H pylori. He gave her an antibiotic that kills the bacteria and she never had another ulcer again. They now have evidence that H pylori causes gastric cancer the same way HPV causes cervical cancer.
I completely believe that brain tumors can be caused by a virus or bacteria. I have always believed that. In fact if you go back and read the history of posts from these groups I’m sure you will find several from me talking about it. I pray someday the cause will be found and our kids cure can be as easy as an antibiotic. Thanks for sharing your research and thoughts with us,