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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2013, Article ID 167843, 7 pages
Review Article

The Demise of Poskanzer and Schwab’s Influenza Theory on the Pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease

Department of Neurology, University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, 3450 Hull Road, 4th Floor, Gainesville, FL 32607, USA

Received 16 April 2013; Revised 26 May 2013; Accepted 28 May 2013

Academic Editor: Heinz Reichmann

Copyright © 2013 Danny Estupinan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In 1961, David C. Poskanzer and Robert S. Schwab presented a paper, “Studies in the epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease predicting its disappearance as a major clinical entity by 1980.” This paper introduced the hypothesis that Parkinson’s disease was derived from a single aetiology, the influenza virus. We review the original Poskanzer and Schwab hypothesis that Parkinson’s disease was based on the association between the 1918-19 influenza epidemic and the later observation of Parkinsonism in some influenza sufferers. We also further explore the prediction that Parkinson’s disease would totally disappear as an entity once original influenza victims were all deceased. Current research has revealed that there are many potential causes and factors important in the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease, postencephalitic Parkinsonism, and encephalitis lethargica. Poskanzer and Schwab presented a novel hypothesis; however, it was proven false by a combination of research and time.