Encephalitis means inflammation of the brain, and it is usually the result of an infection. The disease can be life threatening, but this form of the disease is quite rare. The symptoms can be very mild in some cases leading some doctors to believe that there is a much higher instance of the disease than is reported.

There are two types of encephalitis, a primary form and a secondary form. The primary form is when there is a direct infection of the brain and spinal cord and the secondary infection occurs when there is an infection in another part of the body that moves to the brain.

The symptoms of encephalitis can be very mild and only cause headache, lethargy and irritability. Some people don’t feel any symptoms at all and in these mild cases the illness does not last for very long. Others can experience drowsiness, seizures, disorientation, fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, and a stiff neck. Infants may have a bulging in the soft spots of the skull as well.

Most cases of encephalitis are caused by a viral infection which can occur from herpes viruses, viruses that are transmitted by insects such as ticks and mosquitoes and rabies that occurs from an infected animal bite.

There are some forms of encephalitis that are mosquito borne illnesses that can affect a small number of patients in a year. Eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, west Nile encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis are all rare forms of the disease but do occur on occasion.

While everyone is susceptible to encephalitis that is from infected mosquitoes, there are some risk factors that can place you at a greater risk. Your age is a determining factor and the disease is more common in older or very young children. Those with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk for the disease. The area that you live in may also increase your risk of encephalitis and the amount of time that you spend out of doors will also have an impact on the likelihood that you will have encephalitis.

It is important that you seek medical attention if you have the signs and symptoms of encephalitis. In many cases the disease is mild, but it can be serious and life threatening in other cases so you should seek medical treatment. The doctor will perform some tests to determine if you are suffering from encephalitis so that treatment can begin.

Most of the time the doctor will treat mild cases of encephalitis with rest, a good diet, liquids and acetaminophen to relieve the pain of headaches. The doctor may also prescribe anti inflammatory medications to relieve the swelling of the brain. Anticonvulsant medications may also be used if you are having seizures because of the condition.

One of the difficulties in treating encephalitis can come from the difficulty in treating the viruses that are responsible for the illness. These viruses do not necessarily respond well to medication. Antiviral medications may be used to treat certain viruses responsible for the encephalitis that respond well such as the herpes simplex virus. The doctor will make the determination on the medications to use on each individual case of encephalitis.

The best way to avoid contracting encephalitis is to avoid the viruses that cause the disease. Preparing for outdoor activity with insect repellant and wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, especially when in an area heavily populated with mosquitoes during the evening and night hours is a way of doing this.

Encephalitis is common in mosquitoes so make sure that you take steps to prevent mosquitoes from coming into your home and remove any standing water on your property that will attract the insect.

Last updated on Aug 3rd, 2009 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses for “Encephalitis”

  1. JA says:

    For further information check out The Encephalitis Society they are the only service of their kind providing information on the differing types of encephalitis. Much of their info is freely downloadable. There is also email support and a telephone helpline.

  2. I do hope you will include our group. We have over 400 members and will be having a conference this year in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 18-20, 2009. The Encephalitis Society is a great group and I wish there would be as much support in the U.S. and Canada for our group as there is in England and Great Britain for theirs.

    Ingrid Guerci
    Tarrytown, NY, USA
    HSE 12/95 (I iwas 45 years old)

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