October 28, 2009 (Baltimore, Maryland) — Investigators are reporting a case of motor neuron disease after immunization with the quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil. The Merck product is designed to prevent infection with several types of human papillomavirus.
Presenting here at the 134th annual meeting of the American Neurological Association, researchers describe a case of rapidly progressive disease leading to the death of a 14-year-old girl.
“Pathological features support the temporal association of the clinical presentation and vaccination and provides supporting evidence that immune-mediated reactions to the nervous system are potential risks after Gardasil vaccination,” Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, MD, director of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Center at the University of California–San Francisco, told the meeting.
“Our patient received 3 doses of Gardasil with symptom onset 2 months after her last dose,” the poster presenters wrote. “Despite treatment with aggressive immunosuppression, her weakness relentlessly progressed and she died of respiratory failure 21 months after the onset of her weakness.”
Postmortem evaluations revealed widespread infiltrates of T lymphocytes and macrophages in the grey and white matter at all levels of the spinal cord. Researchers also report extensive demyelination and severe loss of motor neurons.