Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a rare disease that occurs in both children and adults. ADEM affects the central nervous system through demyelination. The Mayo Clinic describes a demyelinating disease as “any condition that results in damage to the protective covering (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve fibers in your brain and spinal cord.” This damage results in delayed impulses and a wide array of neurological issues. ADEM presents itself much like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a more common demyelinating disease. While the cause of MS is unknown, ADEM is almost always brought on by environmental factors. Ward Black Law represents clients whose ADEM was triggered by a vaccine such as the flu shot.

Post-Immunization Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

When people develop ADEM after a vaccination, symptoms can begin in as little as four days. According to the Transverse Myelitis Association, post-vaccinal ADEM has been associated with immunization for the following:

  • Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis B
  • Pneumococcus
  • Polio
  • Smallpox
  • Varicella
  • Japanese B encephalitis

The vast majority of ADEM cases are triggered by an infection rather than a vaccination, but researchers continue to find links between vaccinations and immune attacks that lead to demyelination.

Signs and Symptoms

It is important to recognize the warning signs of a vaccine injury. When ADEM is brought on by a vaccination, symptoms usually begin within 4-13 days. Headaches or fever may be noticed in the early stages followed by neurological issues such as:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Unsteady walking or clumsiness
  • Vision issues such as blurring or double vision
  • Weakness of arms and legs


ADEM patients typically develop numerous changes to the nerve fibers located deep in the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most effective way for doctors to examine this area and ultimately make an ADEM diagnosis. Additionally, a lumbar puncture can be used to analyze spinal fluid for increased white cells, a common immune response to ADEM.

How an ADEM Attorney Can Help

Ward Black Law represents vaccine injury victims in North Carolina and across the United States. Our team recently helped a patient with ADEM receive a six-figure award. Because her disease was found to be a direct result of the flu shot, she collected a lump sum to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Nancy Meyers with Ward Black Law petitioned for funds from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program before the US Court of Federal Claims, which will also cover all lawyer fees for this client.

If you have been diagnosed with ADEM or another disease, and believe your condition stems from a vaccination, contact us online or call toll free: 800-531-9191.