Monday, September 26, 2022

What Is Encephalitis Of The Brain

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What Are The Symptoms Of Encephalitis In A Child

What is Encephalitis?

Symptoms may occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:

  • Fever
  • Bulging of the soft spots on a babys head
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Trouble talking and speech changes
  • Changes in alertness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

The symptoms of encephalitis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider right away for a diagnosis.

Other Viral Causes Of Encephalitis


The rabies virus is transmitted from the saliva of an infected animal. The encephalitis it causes is virtually always fatal but although it is more common in Eastern Europe, it is very rare in the U.S. Only 1 or 2 cases are typically reported each year, usually from contact with raccoons, bats, or other wild animals.

Encephalitis Associated with Childhood Diseases

Vaccines have virtually eliminated encephalitis caused by common childhood infections such as measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. Encephalitis can still occur in rare cases, particularly with immunocompromised children.


Adenoviruses typically cause respiratory or eye infections but, in rare cases, can cause encephalitis as well. The risk is greatest for people who have weakened immune systems.


Enteroviruses consist of a large group of viruses that enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract and are often responsible for a “stomach flu.” They account for only a small percentage of viral encephalitis cases, especially in children. Polio , a disease that has been virtually eliminated in North America through the widespread use of vaccines against the polio virus, is caused by a member of the Enterovirus family. Polio can rarely cause encephalitis, particularly in children.

What Types Of Tests Might I Need

Testing helps healthcare providers:

  • Determine how severe it is.
  • Identify the type of encephalitis .

Tests you may need include:

  • Lumbar puncture , which involves taking a sample of spinal fluid and examining it in a lab.
  • Blood tests, which assess organ functioning and check for specific types of bacteria.
  • Imaging studies, such as a CT scan, MRI and MEG test. These tests show signs of tissue damage. They can also detect issues like tumors and brain bleeds.

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How Can Rehabilitation Help Me

Rehabilitation includes different types of therapies that help you learn how to:

  • Complete everyday tasks, like getting dressed.
  • Communicate, even if speaking becomes difficult.
  • Make lists and use other planning techniques.
  • Manage money and other resources.
  • Regain balance and coordination with special exercises and assistive devices.

Modes Of Transmission Of Viruses

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome Shown Using Medical Animation

Viruses spread by different means, and some are more infectious than others. Some of the modes of viral transmission include:

  • coughs or sneezes from an infected person that release airborne viruses, which are then inhaled by others
  • infected insects and animals, which can transfer some viruses directly into the bloodstream via their bite
  • eating contaminated food or drink
  • the transfer of some viruses can occur through touching an infected person
  • there is evidence to suggest that some cases of viral encephalitis are caused by a dormant viral infection becoming active again.

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How Is Encephalitis Detected

Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of encephalitis are essential. Although many cases are relatively mild and may resolve on their own, severe cases of encephalitisand especially types like herpes simplex encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitisare likely to cause long-term harm or even death if left untreated and allowed to progress.

Early signs of encephalitis, which often precede the more commonly recognized symptoms, include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness or paralysis in limbs
  • Seizures
  • Unusual sleepiness or fatigue

You should see a doctor immediately if you experience severe symptoms such as high fever, intense headache, or pronounced confusion. Children who exhibit any symptoms should also see a doctor immediately.

What Specialists Treat Encephalitis

There are many causes of encephalitis. What type of specialists may be consulted depends upon the underlying cause of the disease. In general, primary-care physicians, pediatricians, emergency medicine specialists, infectious-disease specialists, toxicologists, critical-care specialists, neurologists, and possibly others may be consulted to help diagnose and treat encephalitis.

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How Serious Is Encephalitis

Encephalitis is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and early treatment. Those most at risk for death and severe illness are:

  • Infants and young children

  • Aspiration pneumonia

  • Low platelet count

The risk of death from encephalitis can be as high as 40% in some parts of the world. For those who survive the illness, theres also a risk of long-lasting effects.

Treatment For Viral Encephalitis

What Are the Effects of Encephalitis?

Unlike bacteria, viruses are difficult to treat. Antiviral medications only work on a limited number of viruses. Treatment aims to reduce the severity of the symptoms and may include:

  • hospitalisation
  • antiviral medication, given intravenously, if the virus is known to be susceptible to treatment with antiviral medication
  • intravenous administration of medications to help reduce brain swelling
  • pain-relieving medication
  • medication to prevent seizures
  • medication to reduce fever, such as paracetamol
  • fluids to prevent dehydration, but not too much as this can worsen cerebral oedema .

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Who Gets Autoimmune Encephalitis

Autoimmune encephalitis was once considered rare, but doctors are finding more cases as their ability to diagnose it improves. A 2018 study found 13.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Factors that affect risk include:

  • Gender: This illness, like many autoimmune diseases, affects women more often than men.
  • Age: It can happen at any age but is diagnosed most often in young women.
  • Family history: It does not appear to run in families.
  • Race/ethnicity: It may be much more common among Black people, according to the 2018 study, but more research is needed.

What Research Is Being Done

The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. The NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.

Current research efforts include basic studies of host immune responses, gaining a better understanding of how the central nervous system responds to inflammation, and the role of T cells in suppressing infection in the brain. Scientists hope to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the protection and disruption of the blood-brain barrier, which could lead to the development of new treatments for several neuroinflammatory diseases such as meningitis and encephalitis. Other scientists hope to define, at a molecular level, how certain viruses overcome the bodys defense mechanisms and interact with target host cells. A possible therapeutic approach under investigation involves testing neuroprotective compounds that block the damage that may follow infection and inflammation of meningitis and encephalitis and potentially lead to complications, including loss of cognitive function and dementia. Additional research focuses on autoimmune causes of encephalitis and the optimal treatments for them.

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What Causes Meningitis And Encephalitis

Infectious causes of meningitis and encephalitis include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. For some individuals, environmental exposure , recent travel, or an immunocompromised state are important risk factors. There are also non-infectious causes such as autoimmune/rheumatological diseases and certain medications.


Bacterial meningitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease. Several types of bacteria can first cause an upper respiratory tract infection and then travel through the bloodstream to the brain. The disease can also occur when certain bacteria invade the meninges directly. Bacterial meningitis can cause stroke, hearing loss, and permanent brain damage.

Other forms of bacterial meningitis include Listeria monocytogenes meningitis Escherichia coli meningitis, which is most common in elderly adults and newborns and may be transmitted to a baby through the birth canal and Mycobacterium tuberculosis meningitis, a rare disease that occurs when the bacterium that causes tuberculosis attacks the meninges.

Fungal infections can affect the brain. The most common form of fungal meningitis is caused by the fungus cryptococcus neoformans . Cryptococcal meningitis mostly occurs in immunocompromised individuals such as those with AIDS but can also occur in healthy people. Some of these cases can be slow to develop and smolder for weeks. Although treatable, fungal meningitis often recurs in nearly half of affected persons.


Controlling Mosquitoes Around The House

What is Autoimmune Encephalitis

Eliminate Sources of Standing Water

The best way for homeowners to reduce mosquito populations is to eliminate sources of standing water:

  • Look for any source of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed. Discard any rubbish with standing water, such as old tires, cans, and bottles.
  • Do not let water accumulate in outdoor flower pot basins or pet bowls. Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use. Change bird bath water every 3 to 4 days.
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs should be clean and chlorinated or drained and covered if not in use.
  • Cut weeds and mow grass regularly. Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
  • Keep gutters clean and unclogged.
  • Use products such as Mosquito Dunk, which are pesticides that kill mosquito larvae before they can hatch. They are applied on a monthly basis to standing water during mosquito season. They are safe for people, pets, and wildlife.

Mosquito Traps and Bug Zappers

Mosquito traps use various methods for repelling or attracting and trapping female mosquitoes, which are the primary transmitters of arboviruses. These methods include electricity or propane. However, there is little evidence to support their effectiveness.

Insect light traps , which attract and electrocute insects, are not effective for mosquito control. An additional concern is that they can kill beneficial insects.

Citronella Candles

Burning citronella candles can modestly reduce the likelihood of bites.

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Risk Factors For Encephalitis

According to the Encephalitis Society, approximately 250,000 cases of encephalitis have been diagnosed in the United States over the last decade. While that equates to only about 1 in 200,000 cases each year, several factors are known to increase the risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Age: Young children and older adults are more at risk.
  • Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as HIV, certain drugs, illnesses, or poor nutrition are more at risk.
  • Geographic location: People who live in areas where mosquito- and tick-borne diseases are common are more at risk.

What Causes Encephalitis In A Child

Researchers think that viruses are the main cause. Children are vaccinated against many viruses such as measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. This has greatly lowered the rate of encephalitis from these diseases. But other viruses can cause it. These include herpes simplex virus, West Nile virus, and rabies. Encephalitis may happen after a viral illness. This may be an upper respiratory infection, or an illness that causes diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Encephalitis can also happen after a bacterial infection such as Lyme disease, tuberculosis, or syphilis. It can also happen after an infection caused by parasites, such as toxoplasmosis.

Another cause is an autoimmune reaction. This is when the body’s own immune system attacks the brain tissues. For example, an antibody made against a protein called an NMDA receptor may cause encephalitis. This may be triggered by a tumor.

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Rabies Vaccine And Immune Globulin

There are two types of rabies vaccines: pre-exposure and post-exposure. The pre-exposure vaccine is for people who face occupational risks for rabies or who will be traveling to countries where rabies is endemic. The post-exposure vaccine is for anyone bitten by an animal suspected of having rabies.

People who never received pre-exposure vaccination may also receive a shot of rabies immune globulin unless they were previously vaccinated. The regimen is 1 shot of rabies immune globulin and 4 shots of post-exposure rabies vaccine given over a period of 2 weeks.

The current types of rabies vaccines cause much less discomfort and fewer adverse effects than the older ones. Side effects may include mild reactions such as pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Pain at the injection site and low-grade fever may follow the rabies immune globulin shot.

What Causes Autoimmune Encephalitis

What is encephalitis?

In many cases, the cause of autoimmune encephalitis is unknown. But experts say it can be caused by:

  • Exposure to certain bacteria and viruses, including streptococcus and herpes simplex virus.
  • A type of tumor called a teratoma, generally in the ovaries, that causes the immune system to produce specific antibodies.
  • Rarely, some cancers that can trigger an autoimmune response .

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What Else Can I Do To Make Daily Life A Little Easier

You can maximize your well-being by paying careful attention to:

  • Nutrition: What you eat can affect how you feel. Make sure you are eating foods that have a lot of vitamins and nutrients. Meals should include fruits, grains, lean meats, vegetables and dairy products.
  • Pacing: You may only be able to tolerate short periods of activity. Consider scheduling tasks on a calendar with rest periods before and after. This approach can help you avoid trying to do too much at once.
  • Sleep: Its natural to feel tired while you are recovering. But lingering cognitive symptoms can also affect sleep quality. Following a consistent nighttime schedule and relaxing before bedtime can help.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Encephalitis is a brain infection that requires care in a hospital. After the infection goes away, you may experience lingering symptoms that affect brain functioning. Achieving your full recovery potential takes time. In some cases, months or years. Rehabilitation and good self-care can maximize your abilities and quality of life.

Key Points About Encephalitis In Children

  • Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. It causes the brain to swell. It is a serious and life-threatening condition that needs to be treated right away.
  • Experts think that viruses are the main cause. It can also happen after a bacterial infection. Or it may happen after an infection caused by parasites, such as toxoplasmosis.
  • Symptoms can include fever, headache, sleepiness, and changes in behavior.
  • A child needs to stay in the hospital where he or she can be closely watched. Your child may need tests such as an MRI, CT scan, or blood tests.
  • The goal of treatment is to reduce the swelling in the head and to prevent complications. Your child may need to take medicines to stop the infection and control seizures or fever. In severe cases, your child may need to use a breathing machine .
  • As your child recovers, he or she may need physical, occupational, or speech therapy. This will help your child regain muscle strength or speech skills.

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Can Vaccines Cause Encephalitis Or Encephalopathy Yes

Vaccines can cause encephalitis. This usually happens when the vaccine triggers an autoimmune reaction in the body. The most common vaccine-related encephalitis is called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis . It usually occurs a few days to a few weeks after receiving the vaccine. Symptoms of ADEM include headache, fever, and confusion. In severe cases, it can cause paralysis or even death.

Vaccines can cause encephalopathy. The government recognizes vaccine-caused encephalopathy as an injury in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Pertussis containing vaccines, Tdap, etc. are the biggest culprits.

Any vaccine has the potential to cause encephalopathy because vaccines are made from viruses, bacteria, or other organisms that can cause inflammation of the brain.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms


The hallmark signs of meningitis include some or all of the following: sudden fever, severe headache, nausea or vomiting, double vision, drowsiness, sensitivity to bright light, and a stiff neck. Encephalitis can be characterized by fever, seizures, change in behavior, and confusion and disorientation. Related neurological signs depend on which part of the brain is affected by the encephalitic process as some of these are quite localized while others are more widespread.

Meningitis often appears with flu-like symptoms that develop over 1-2 days. Distinctive rashes are typically seen in some forms of the disease. Meningococcal meningitis may be associated with kidney and adrenal gland failure and shock.

Individuals with encephalitis often show mild flu-like symptoms. In more severe cases, people may experience problems with speech or hearing, double vision, hallucinations, personality changes, and loss of consciousness. Other severe complications include loss of sensation in some parts of the body, muscle weakness, partial paralysis in the arms and legs, impaired judgment, seizures, and memory loss.

Important signs of meningitis or encephalitis to watch for in an infant include fever, lethargy, not waking for feedings, vomiting, body stiffness, unexplained/unusual irritability, and a full or bulging fontanel .

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Signs And Symptoms In Infants

Initially, encephalitis is harder to detect in young children and babies. Parents or guardians should look out for vomiting, a bulging fontanel , incessant crying that does not get better when the baby is picked up and comforted, and body stiffness.

Encephalitis can develop as a result of a direct infection to the brain by a virus, bacterium, or fungus, or when the immune system responds to a previous infection the immune system mistakenly attacks brain tissue.

Primary encephalitis can be split into three main categories of viruses:

  • Common viruses, including HSV and EBV
  • Childhood viruses, including measles and mumps
  • Arboviruses , including Japanese encephalitis, West Nile encephalitis, and tick-borne encephalitis
  • Secondary encephalitis: could be caused by a complication of a viral infection. Symptoms start to appear days or even weeks after the initial infection. The patients immune system treats healthy brain cells as foreign organisms and attacks them. We still do not know why the immune system malfunctions in this way.

    In more than 50 percent of encephalitis cases, the exact cause of the illness is not tracked down.

    Encephalitis is more likely to affect children, older adults, individuals with weakened immune systems, and people who live in areas where mosquitoes and ticks that spread specific viruses are common.

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