Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Encephalitis Overview

What is encephalitis?
Encephalitis causes inflammation and swelling of the brain and dura, a protective sheath that envelope the brain and spinal cord. Most cases of encephalitis are caused by a viral infection that resolves without complications. Infants, elderly individuals, and those with weakened immune system are at higher risk for serious brain swelling and death from viral encephalitis.

What are the symptoms of encephalitis?
Symptoms of encephalitis include body aches, fatigue, fever, headache, nausea, and rash. More severe symptoms include neck pain, neck stiffness, and confusion.

How does the doctor treat encephalitis?
The treatment for encephalitis depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for encephalitis may include intravenous fluids, antibiotics, antiviral medications, and medications to control vomiting. Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be given for pain and fever control.

Continue to Encephalitis Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Encephalitis References
  1. Debiasi RL, Tyler KL. Molecular methods for diagnosis of viral encephalitis. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2004 Oct;17(4):903-25, table of contents. [15489354]
  2. Kennedy PG. Viral encephalitis: causes, differential diagnosis, and management. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004 Mar;75 Suppl 1:i10-5. [14978145]
  3. Vernet G. Diagnosis of zoonotic viral encephalitis. Arch Virol Suppl. 2004;(18):231-44. [15119778]
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