Reye’s Syndrome


Other Known AliasesReye’s sequence, Reye-Morgan-Baral syndrome, Reye-Johnson syndrome

Definition – Rare disease of acquired encephalopathy and fatty liver filtration in children under 15 years of age

Clinical Significance Classically, this condition follows a viral upper respiratory illness (influenza B, varicella) in children who were given aspirin for fever therapy.  Symptoms include vomiting, confusion, AMS, seizures, and LOC. Children under 5 years of age frequently have hyperglycemia as well.  Mortality is as high as 40% and many that survive are left with significant brain damage.

History – First described in 1929 by Dr. W.R. Brain, D. Hunter, and H.M. Turnbull, but not established as clinical diagnosis until published in The Lancet in 1963 by Dr. Ralph Douglass K. Reye, Dr. Graeme Morgan, and Dr. James Baral,.  Later that same year (1963), an outbreak of this condition occurred in North Carolina and was published by Dr. George Johnson.


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  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com/. Accessed March 7, 2017.
  5. Brain, WR, Hunter, D, Turnbull, HM. Acute meningoencephalomyelitis of childhood: report of six cases. Lancet. 1929;1:221–227 [article]
  6. Reye RDK, Morgan G, Baral J. Encephalopathy and fatty degeneration of the viscera: A disease entity of childhood. Lancet. 1963; 2(7311):749-52. [pubmed]
  7. Johnson GM, Scurletis TD, Carroll NB. A study of sixteen fatal cases of encephalitis-like disease in North Carolina children. North Carolina medical journal. 1963; 24:464-73. [pubmed]

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