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Feinstein’s office confirms broader health complications, contradicting the senator’s denial


(CNN) Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office confirmed Thursday that the California Democrat experienced broader health complications following her shingles diagnosis, contradicting an earlier denial by the senator herself.

A Feinstein spokesman said in a statement to CNN that those complications “included Ramsay Hunt syndrome and encephalitis.”

The spokesman added: “While the encephalitis resolved itself shortly after she was discharged from hospital in March, she continues to have complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome.”

Earlier Thursday, Feinstein told CNN that she did not have encephalitis, saying, “it’s really never been properly diagnosed.”

“It was a really bad flu,” Feinstein said, adding, “I’m better, thank you.”

It is rare for a Senate office to publicly contradict its own senator.

Feinstein has been dogged by health issues for years, including over her memory — issues that have only intensified during her months-long absence from the Senate and her recent return.

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain; it can be caused by many types of infections, but it is known to be a rare complication of shingles. Ramsay Hunt syndrome can occur when a case of shingles affects a facial nerve near an eye, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to comment Thursday when asked by CNN if he was aware of the additional diagnosis. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told CNN he was unaware of the additional illness.

The 89-year-old Democrat was recovering from shingles at home in California and had been absent from the Hill since February before her return.

The New York Times was the first to report on undisclosed complications Feinstein has experienced since her shingles diagnosis, including encephalitis.

In a statement released by her office last week, Feinstein said she is still “experiencing some side effects” from shingles and her doctors have advised her to “work a lighter schedule” when she returns to the Senate.

CNN’s Kristin Wilson, Nicky Robertson and Ted Barrett contributed

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