OBJECTIVE: To report a case of bilateral vocal cord abductor paralysis in the context of primary herpes simplex infection. CASE REPORT: A 63-year-old man was urgently admitted to hospital with laryngeal dyspnoea associated with dysphagia but without dysphonia. Physical examination demonstrated the vocal cords in a paramedian position with paralysis of abduction. The patient reported primary herpes simplex infection two weeks prior to this episode.
HSV serology indicated recent infection and lumbar puncture demonstrated the presence of herpes simplex virus type 1 in the cerebrospinal fluid. Complete resolution of respiratory symptoms was observed after 21 days of treatment with intravenous aciclovir. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Gerhardt syndrome comprises inspiratory dyspnoea without… dysphonia. It used to be mainly due to syphilis, but is now mostly observed in the setting of neurodegenerative disease.
The authors report a case of Gerhardt syndrome occurring after an episode of primary herpes simplex infection with the presence of herpes simplex virus in the CSF. Treatment by intravenous antiviral drugs allowed rapid resolution of the symptoms. The pathophysiology of Gerhardt syndrome remains unexplained, but the possible role of herpes simplex infection should be considered in cases of laryngeal palsy.