Encephalitis and Meningitis (cont.)
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Encephalitis and meningitis facts
- What is encephalitis?
- What causes encephalitis?
- What are encephalitis symptoms and signs?
- Is encephalitis contagious?
- Is it possible to prevent encephalitis? Is there an encephalitis vaccine?
- What is meningitis?
- What causes meningitis?
- What are meningitis symptoms and signs?
- What is encephalomyelitis?
- What are the risk factors for encephalitis and meningitis?
- What specialties of doctors treat encephalitis and meningitis?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose encephalitis and meningitis?
- What is the treatment of encephalitis and meningitis?
- What is the prognosis (outlook), and what are the complications for patients with encephalitis or meningitis?
- Is meningitis contagious?
- Is it possible to prevent meningitis? Is there a meningitis vaccine?
- Take the Meningitis Quiz
- View the Dementia Slideshow
- West Nile Virus Slideshow
- Meningitis FAQs
What is encephalitis?
Encephalitis is brain inflammation.
What causes encephalitis?
- Encephalitis is a rare condition that is most often caused by viruses.
- It can also be caused by noninfectious diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Behçet's disease.
- The leading cause of severe encephalitis is the herpes simplex virus.
- Other causes include enterovirus infections or mosquito-borne viruses.
- The very young and the elderly are more likely to have more severe encephalitis.
Exposure to viruses can occur through breathing in respiratory droplets from infected people, certain insect bites, and direct skin contact.
What are encephalitis symptoms and signs?
The signs and symptoms of encephalitis can range from very mild flu-like symptoms to potentially life-threatening events. Signs and symptoms of encephalitis include
- sudden fever,
- visual sensitivity to light,
- stiff neck and back,
- unsteady gait,
- loss of consciousness,
- poor responsiveness,
- muscle weakness,
- sudden severe dementia, and
- memory loss.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of encephalitis should see a doctor immediately.
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