Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. However, cytomegalovirus (CMV) encephalitis should be considered in those with immunodeficiency. In the UK, the most common virus to cause encephalitis is herpes simplex virus. Symptoms usually start with the common symptoms of a viral infection such as high temperature (fever), headache, muscle aches, feeling tired and feeing sick (nausea). The Amobi Okoye Foundation, Inc. In secondary or postinfectious encephalitis, the virus invades another part of your body and travels to your brain. For example, West Nile virus can cause encephalitis when a person is bitten by an infected mosquito.
Another type is the herpes simplex virus, which is the same virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. Some people can recover from encephalitis and have few, or no, long-term problems. In other people, encephalitis can be life-threatening. Also, after encephalitis, some people are left with permanent brain damage. Most people who catch these viruses only have a mild illness (depending on the virus, these could include a skin rash, a cold sore, etc). However, rarely, in some people, the virus can travel in the bloodstream to attack the brain and cause encephalitis. Elsewhere in the world, other viruses can cause encephalitis after bites by insects such as mosquitoes (Japanese B encephalitis virus, West Nile virus) or ticks (Central European tick-borne virus).
HSV is part of a group of 8 herpes viruses that can cause human disease. Most cases of encephalitis are caused by the virus directly infecting the brain. However, sometimes encephalitis can develop if your immune system tries to fight off a virus and, at the same time, attacks the nerves in your brain in error. This is a serious viral or bacterial illness that causes swelling of the tissues around the brain and spinal cord. Infants may have bulging in the fontanels or soft spots on the skull. This test can measure the electrical signals in the brain. It may show a change related to the illness.
It is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Sometimes you can have both encephalitis and meningitis at the same time. This is called meningoencephalitis. Encephalitis is not very common. About 2,500 people per year develop encephalitis in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Anyone can develop encephalitis. HSV is the same virus that causes cold sores around the mouth, but when it attacks the brain it may occasionally be fatal.
You are also more likely to develop encephalitis if your immune system is compromised in some way. For example, if you are HIV-positive, if you are undergoing treatment for cancer, if you are taking long-term steroid treatment, etc. As the infection starts to attack the brain, people may start to notice that your behaviour becomes odd. It usually causes a mild infection, except in children under 1 year of age, who can have permanent brain damage. In some cases, you may need a machine called a ventilator to help you breathe. After you are out of the hospital, it may take several weeks, months, or even longer to fully recover from your symptoms. Eventually you can become unconscious.
You may also start to have seizures (fits). Symptoms can develop quite quickly over a few hours or sometimes they can develop over a few days. Someone with encephalitis may have recently been bitten by an insect such as a mosquito or a tick. The rabies virus is transmitted through animal bites such as from an infected dog. Encephalitis can be difficult to diagnose. Recurrences of genital herpes, and viral shedding without overt symptoms, are much less frequent with HSV-1 infection than with HSV-2. Therefore, you may have various tests before encephalitis can be diagnosed.
A lumbar puncture (sometimes called a spinal tap) is a procedure where a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is taken for testing. CSF is the fluid that surrounds the brain (cerebrum) and spinal cord. Do not try to treat it yourself. Avoid areas where there has been an outbreak of viral encephalitis. If you can’t avoid these areas, prevent mosquito bites with these tips: Stay indoors at dawn, at dusk, and in the early evening, when mosquitoes are most active. The EEG test looks at your brainwaves and can show abnormal brainwaves that occur if you have encephalitis. Several small patches (electrodes) are attached to your scalp.
Wires from the electrodes are connected to the EEG machine. See separate leaflet called Electroencephalograph (EEG) for more detail. These can include blood tests, urine tests and swab tests (for example, if you have a blistering skin rash). They can help to look for signs and causes of infection. HSV- 1 can spread spontaneously to the brain, causing herpes encephalitis, a dangerous infection that can lead to death. In some people, encephalitis is diagnosed when other causes for their symptoms have been excluded after tests. Someone with suspected encephalitis needs to be admitted to hospital urgently.
Antiviral medication is usually prescribed if encephalitis is suspected. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to diagnose your problem before starting any treatment. Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the directions for use. Do not keep open containers of water near your house. If you are suspected as having viral encephalitis, you will usually be started on aciclovir treatment straightaway without waiting for confirmation from test results. This is because the medicine needs to be started quickly to be most effective and also because herpes simplex virus is the most common virus that causes encephalitis in the UK. Encephalitis can affect different people in different ways.
Some people recover from encephalitis and have few, or no, long-term problems. However, in many people, encephalitis is a serious condition and can be life-threatening. Also, after encephalitis, it is common for people to be left with some permanent brain damage. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a common cause of infections of the skin and mucous membranes and an uncommon cause of more serious infections in other parts of the body. Support and rehabilitation are needed to help you adjust to, and cope with, any problems that you may have. Therapies such as speech therapy and physiotherapy may help to improve symptoms in some people. Immunisation is also available against viruses that can cause encephalitis in other countries, such as Japanese B encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis caused by insect bites.
People with leukemia or autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, should not take cat’s claw. A vaccine is also available against rabies. Herpes simplex infection in newborn babies is an uncommon complication of active genital herpes in the mother around the time of delivery. It can also (very rarely) occur after direct contact with a herpes blister (such as a cold sore) in someone who is looking after the baby. Swallowing problems. It also gives details about how to reduce the chance of passing on genital herpes to your baby if you develop genital herpes whilst you are pregnant or have recurrent genital herpes during pregnancy.