Parkinsonism secondary to viral infections is not an uncommon occurrence and has been brought under the spotlight with the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. A variety of viruses have been described with a potential of inducing or contributing to the occurrence of parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease (PD), although the relationship between the two remains a matter of debate originating with the description of encephalitis lethargica in the aftermath of the Spanish flu in 1918. While some viral infections have been linked to an increased risk for the development of PD, others seem to have a causal link with the occurrence of parkinsonism. Here, we review the currently available evidence on viral-induced parkinsonism with a focus on potential pathophysiological mechanisms and clinical features. We also review the evidence on viral infections as a risk factor for developing PD and the link between SARS-CoV-2 and parkinsonism, which might have important implications for future research and treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119–1132
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number9
Early online date29 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Infection
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Parkinsonism
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Virus


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