Dance Baby Dance - Saint Vitus Dance

Dr Sampurna Roy MD

Saint Vitus Dance

Saint Vitus Dance also known as Sydenham’s chorea is neurological manifestation of acute rheumatic fever and can occur several months after group A β-hemolytic Streptococcus infections.

The term “chorea” is derived from the Ancient Greek word “choreia”, which means dance.

Chorea presents with irregular, abrupt, rapid, and transient movements that can affect the entire body, and chorea typically manifests in the distal region of the body.

Sydenham’s chorea is the most common cause of chorea during childhood. It is more common in girls, aged 5-15 years.

“Saint Vitus’s dance” was initially considered a curse sent by a saint because afflicted individuals were cured if they touched churches storing Saint Vitus’s relics.

Thomas Sydenham provided an accurate description of what he termed chorea minor.

"There is a kind of convulsion, which attacks boys and girls from the tenth year to the time of puberty. It first shows itself by limping or unsteadiness in one of the legs, which the patient drags. The hand cannot be steady for a moment. It passes from one position to another by a convulsive movement, however much the patient may strive to the contrary. Before he can raise a cup to his lips, he does make as many gesticulations as a mountebank; since he does not move it in a straight line, but has his hand drawn aside by the spasms, until by some good fortune he brings it at last to his mouth. He then gulps it off at once, so suddenly and so greedily as to look as if he were trying to amuse the lookers-on"

-  Vale TC,Cardoso F. Chorea: A Journey through History. Louis ED, ed. Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements. 2015;5:tre-5-296. doi:10.7916/D8WM1C98.

Park J. Movement Disorders Following Cerebrovascular Lesion in the Basal Ganglia Circuit. Journal of Movement Disorders. 2016;9(2):71-79. doi:10.14802/jmd.16005.   


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