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Encephalitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of the Deadly Disease

Image for representation only. (File photo/Reuters)

Image for representation only. (File photo/Reuters)

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome or AES is a viral infection, generally described as a bunch of diseases that include hypoglycemia, dyselectrolytemia, chickenpox, Japanese Encephalitis +ve and AES unknown.

India has faced a new health hazard after as many as 57 children died after suffering from acute encephalitis syndrome. While this is not the first time this AES has affected the children below the age of 15 in Muzaffarpur Bihar, it becomes vital for us to understand what is acute encephalitis syndrome and how does it lead to so many deaths every year.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome or AES is a viral infection and is generally described as a bunch of diseases that include hypoglycemia, dyselectrolytemia, varicella (chickenpox), Japanese Encephalitis +ve and AES unknown.

An inflammation in the brain, encephalitis is caused by a virus, and usually affects people with a weak immune system. While many researchers have linked the spread of encephalitis to the summer fruit lychee, heat is also known to be a major factor.

Signs and Symptoms of encephalitis

The general symptoms of encephalitis are fever, headache, poor appetite, loss of energy and a general sick feeling. However, the serious cases of encephalitis can show signs like a high fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, personality changes, convulsions (seizures), problems with speech or hearing, hallucinations, memory loss, drowsiness and also coma.

Causes of Encephalitis

1.Herpes viruses, such as chickenpox and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

2.West Nile Virus, which is spread through a mosquito bite

3.Viruses causing measles, mumps, and German measles.

4.Bacterial infection caused by bacterial meningitis

5.Spread of toxoplasmosis (found in infected cat faeces) in people with weakened immune systems.

Treatment of Encephalitis

Children suffering from Encephalitis should be kept in the Intensive Care unit or ICU to avoid any major mishap. It can be treated by:

1.Antiviral drugs

2.Corticosteroids, to reduce brain swelling

3.Anticonvulsants, to treat seizures

4.Acetaminophen, for fever and headaches