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- Herpes simplex virus (HSV)—most common cause of viral encephalitis
- Viruses carried by mosquitoes such as West Nile or Eastern equine encephalitis
- Chickenpox virus
- Influenza virus
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Polio virus
- Measles virus
- Mumps virus
- Living, working, or playing in an area where mosquito- or tick-borne viruses are common.
Not being immunized against diseases, such as:
- A suppressed immune system caused by certain medications, or health conditions, such as HIV infection
- Newborns of mothers who have genital herpes are at risk for herpes simplex encephalitis.
- Weakness, severe fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck and back
- Muscle aches
- Changes in consciousness
- Personality changes
- Loss of mobility
- Progressive drowsiness
- Trouble walking
- Trouble speaking
- Trouble swallowing
- Blood tests
- Lumbar puncture to test the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
- Antiviral drugs to shorten the duration of the illness
- Steroids to reduce inflammation in the brain
- Diuretics to decrease pressure inside the head
- Intubation to support breathing; may also help decrease pressure in the head
- Anticonvulsant medication to prevent and/or treat seizures
- Make sure that you and your children have recommended vaccinations
Protect yourself from mosquito bites especially in area at high risk of infection. Helpful steps include:
- Fix window screens.
- Drain standing water around your home.
- Wear long clothes after dark.
- Use repellent when you are outside.
- If you are sleeping outside, use proper mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 09/2016
- Update Date: 03/13/2017