Encephalitis literally means an inflammation of the brain, but it usually refers to brain inflammation caused by a virus. It may also be called “acute viral encephalitis or aseptic encephalitis”. Encephalitis is an infectious disease of the Central Nervous System characterized by pathologic changes in both the gray and white matter of the spinal cord and brain. It may be due to specific disease entity such as rabies or an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus), or it may occur as a sequela of influenza, measles, German measles, chicken pox, herpes virus infection, small pox, vaccinia, or other diseases.
The specific viruses involved may vary. Exposure can also occur through insect bites, food or drink, or skin contact. Once the virus has entered the blood stream, it can localize the brain causing inflammation of brain cells and surrounding measures. White blood cells invade the brain tissue as they try to fight off the infection. The brain tissue swells (cerebral edema) and can cause destruction of nerve cells, bleeding with in the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage), and brain damage. This can cause neurologic deficits such as parplysis, speech changes, increased intracranial pressure, respiratory failure, seizure disorders, and shock can occur.
Most patients are hospitalized and placed in intensive care units. Oxygen masks are put on to help with breathing. The body is fed through feeding tubes. In the infectious type of encephalitis, antiviral agents are used. The sooner drug therapy is prescribed, the lower the risk of death.
The post-infectious type of the disease is treated with drugs of the corticosteroid group. Prescribe high dosages. The number of days of admission is determined depending on the severity of the disease and the general condition of the patient. Corticosteroids calm the immune system and reduce inflammation.