Encephalitis – what is it

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. But a distinction must be made between meningitis, which is an inflammation of the covering or membrane of the two cerebral hemispheres, while encephalitis is an inflammation of the gray matter of the brain.

Unfortunately, in some people, the diseases can coexist and this can lead to difficulties in establishing a diagnosis and determining the appropriate treatment.

Also, the two diseases have very similar symptoms, which makes it even more difficult to tell them apart. The causes of encephalitis are extremely diverse: viruses, bacteria, parasites, chemicals and even autoimmune reactions.

In medical practice, most doctors believe that encephalitis is a viral disease. Viruses that cause herpes, mumps, measles and chicken pox can also cause encephalitis.

In most cases, encephalitis is caused by herpes viruses and arboviruses. They are transmitted through the sting or bite of insects such as mosquitoes and ticks.

What are the symptoms

Symptoms and signs of encephalitis are identical in children and adults. Babies have difficulty eating or consume very little food, are irritable and vomit, the fontanelle – the soft connective tissue between the skull bones, is swollen, the body is stiff; These symptoms in an infant are in any case a medical emergency.

Symptoms can last for 2 to 3 symptoms and are similar to those of the flu, but in some people, symptoms gradually worsen over time and may last longer:

  • High body temperature;
  • Fatigue;
  • Inflamed and red throat;
  • Neck and back cramps;
  • Vomiting;
  • Headache ;
  • Confusion;
  • Irritability;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Instability of the body when moving;
  • Strong sensitivity of the eyes to light.

In more severe cases, symptoms can be:

  • Convulsions;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Paralysis;
  • Memory loss;
  • Weakened bodily reactions to external stimuli;

What are the most common causes of encephalitis

Encephalitis is a serious disease that can be caused by various causes. The main two most common causes of encephalitis are herpes simplex virus and arboviruses.

These viruses are transmitted and developed in different ways, but both can cause brain infection and serious health problems.

Herpes simplex virus

Herpes simplex virus is a well-known cause of infections such as oral herpes and genital herpes lesions. This virus can be transmitted by direct contact with infected areas and can cause encephalitis.

The most dangerous situation is when the mother transmits the virus to the newborn during birth through the birth canal.

The virus can pass into the nerve fibers and cause inflammation of the brain. Emotional stress can activate the latent virus and cause brain infection.

Herpes simplex can cause two forms of encephalitis – acute, which lasts two to three weeks, and chronic, which can last for 3 or more months.


Arboviruses are a group of viruses that are transmitted through the bite of ticks and mosquitoes. These viruses have the ability to enter the human body after a bite and spread in the bloodstream.

If the concentration of arboviruses in the body becomes high enough, they can cause an infection of the brain, which is the main cause of encephalitis caused by these viruses. </p >

Mosquito and tick bites, especially in high-risk regions, can be dangerous and can lead to serious health problems.

Treatment of encephalitis

Encephalitis can quickly cause death and therefore cannot be treated at home. In case of doubt, medical help should be sought immediately, and measures can only be taken at home to relieve symptoms, but only after a medical examination and diagnosis.

In most cases, encephalitis is caused by a virus, and therefore, for example, when the cause is herpes simplex, some doctors prescribe antiviral drugs for other acute acute viral infections. However, if the encephalitis does not have a viral counterpart, the treatment is aimed at alleviating the symptoms.

In case of viral encephalitis, the maintenance of the body’s hydration is ensured by intravenous infusion of fluids and at the same time it is observed whether the brain swells. Anticonvulsants may also be prescribed to control seizures. Steroids have not been found to be effective, but they are still used in some cases.

Herpes encephalitis can quickly cause death, and therefore the attending physician, if in doubt, immediately begins treatment without waiting for the results of the blood tests.

The recommended treatment is with acyclovir, which is introduced into the body intravenously, which usually lasts about 2-3 weeks. Herpes infections that are resistant to acyclovir can also be treated with foscarnet. During the course of the treatment, the functions of the liver and kidneys are observed.

Can we protect ourselves

Encephalitis is a serious disease that can cause inflammation of the brain and have serious consequences for the health of the affected person. Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to protect ourselves from encephalitis and ensure we are as protected as possible from this dangerous virus.

  1. Seeking medical help for infections and fever: The first step in preventing encephalitis is to be alert to symptoms of infection and fever. If you experience any unusual symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications.
  2. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts or blouses: Encephalitis can be transmitted through mosquito and tick bites. Therefore, it is important when you plan to go outdoors, especially in grassy areas and forests, to wear long clothes that cover as much of your body as possible.
  3. Use insect repellent: Insect repellents are an excellent way to protect against mosquito and other insect bites. Apply them to exposed parts of the body before going outdoors, especially if you are in areas where the risks are higher.
  4. Avoid spending time outdoors at dusk: Mosquitoes and ticks are most active at dusk, so it’s a good idea to avoid spending time outdoors for long periods of time. If necessary, use nets or other insect protection methods.
  5. Cesarean section for active herpes lesions: In pregnancy, if the mother has active herpes lesions in the genital area, it may be advisable to perform a cesarean section to protect the newborn from possible complications.
  6. Vaccinate your children: Encephalitis can also be caused by a variety of viruses, including chicken pox, inflammatory brain disease, and more. Therefore, it is important to vaccinate your children against these viruses when the time is appropriate according to medical guidelines.
  7. Precautions when traveling in risk areas: If you are traveling in areas with low sanitary and hygienic standards, be especially careful and take the necessary precautions. Do not expose yourself to risks and use means of protection as we have mentioned them above.

Remember that precautions and vaccination can greatly reduce the risk of encephalitis. Always consult your doctor or healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance on how to prevent this serious illness.

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