Minnelli Recovering From Encephalitis

ByABC News
October 23, 2000, 9:27 AM

F O R T   L A U D E R D A L E, Fla., Oct. 24 -- Liza Minnelli has been battling medical problems for a decade. But right now, the entertainer is recovering from what may have been her biggest health scare yet: viral encephalitis, a potentially fatal swelling of the brain.

She was quite sick and was in a very serious condition but is now recovering well, said Dr. Maurice Hanson, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic Florida in Fort Lauderdale, where Minnelli is a patient.

According to her publicist, Minnelli is in good spirits and by no means on her death bed.

Minnelli, 54, was doing what she loved on Oct. 8 in the Ft. Lauderdale home she has been renting: singing. Then, she collapsed into a shaking heap.

Found Shaking on the Floor

We found her semiconscious on the floor, disoriented and suffering from what we believe was a possible stroke, said Fire-Rescue Division Chief Stephen McInerny.

McInerny and paramedics who arrived at the Minnelli residence say the actress suffered symptoms that included paralysis on one side of her body, slurred speech and drooping facial muscles. Doctors now say she did not suffer a stroke.

Hanson said Minnelli was treated for encephalitis, then released but later became dehydrated, and had to return to the hospital. Hanson asked reporters to respect the entertainers privacy. He said she has sent her thanks for their care and concern.

The good news for Minnellis fans and friends: viral encephalitis patients usually recover if they get treatment. But three years ago, nine people in Florida have died from the brain infection.

The virus is usually transmitted either by a mosquito, via secretions from human to human can be blood born so there are different ways in which it can get into the system, said neurologist Dr. Leonard Cohen.

Doctors says she could be released within the next few days. That would liven up the staff of Café Martorano where Minnelli dined days before her collapse.