ENCEPHALITIS, VIRAL OR ASEPTIC (Acute Viral Encephalitis; Aseptic Encephalitis)
ENCEPHALITIS, VIRAL OR ASEPTIC
(Acute Viral Encephalitis; Aseptic Encephalitis)
DESCRIPTIONViral encephalitis is an acute inflammation in the brain caused by a contagious viral infection. The brain and sometimes the meninges (membranes that cover the brain) are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Hospitalization (more severe cases only).
Self-care after diagnosis or hospitalization.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSNo symptoms (sometimes).
General ill feeling.
Pupils of different size.
Occasional weakness or paralysis of an arm or leg.
Drowsiness that progresses to coma.
CAUSESViruses that cause other illnesses, including polio, herpes, measles, mumps, chickenpox, infectious mononucleosis, infectious hepatitis, German measles, smallpox, Coxsackie virus, echovirus diseases, and Eastern and Western equine virus.
Viruses carried by mosquitoes or other insects.
Illness that has lowered your child's resistance.
Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Urge your child to avoid contact with anyone who has encephalitis.
Consult your doctor for treatment of any infection in your child's body--especially those mentioned as causes--to attempt to prevent the spread of infection.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies of your child's blood and cerebrospinal fluid.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSA very small percentage of patients suffer permanent brain damage that impairs mental or muscle functions.
PROBABLE OUTCOMEMild viral encephalitis is common and may go unnoticed. A severe case usually requires hospitalization for your child.
Complications and fatalities from encephalitis are most common in infants (and the elderly). People in other age groups usually recover completely. Unless the attack is severe, you can expect your child to recover fully within 2 to 3 weeks.
HOME CARENo specific instructions except those listed under other headings.
MEDICATIONAnti-viral drugs, such as amantadine.
Cortisone drugs to suppress inflammation (rare).
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Antibiotics are not helpful with viral diseases such as this. Your doctor may prescribe:
Your child will need bed rest in a darkened room. After a 2- to 3-week recovery, the child should be as active as strength and feeling of well-being allow.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has any symptoms of encephalitis.
Temperature rises to 101F (38.3C) or higher.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.