Encephalitis is a rare disease which has been diagnosed in 1 person per 200000 people. This disease is related to the brain and results from inflammation of brain tissues. As a result of inflammation, the brain tissues do not function in a normal manner. Due to improper functioning of brain, the child reports seizure, loss of memory and in some cases his behavior changes abnormally.
Encephalitis could be minor or severe and depends upon the extent of inflammation. In case the inflammation is more, and no proper treatment is given, it may result in permanent damage to the brain. Despite research it still is not possible to predict as to what will be the long term effects of encephalitis. Patients having minor problems may not respond well, whereas severe cases may respond very fast.
Generally it is not easy to diagnose encephalitis as it is caused by reaction of something. Secondly, the exact cause of any tissue problem can be ascertained only by a biopsy which is not possible with brain tissues, and is done only in extreme cases. The tests done may or may not detect the nature of the virus that has affected the brain tissues.
Viral Encephalitis can be caused by a variety of reasons. These include:
- Reaction of body to viral infection.
- Over reaction by immune system to some infection.
- Viruses and other agents which causes infection.
- Herpes simplex virus is the most common cause of encephalitis.
- Mumps, measles and chickenpox causing virus may also result in causing encephalitis.
- Other viruses can be those which cause hand, foot and mouth disease.
Thus it can be concluded that encephalitis can be caused by viruses and non virus causes may be malfunctioning of the immune system.
Often mosquitoes are a cause of transmitting viruses from a person to person through mosquito bites. You could take some measures to protect your child from mosquito bites. He should be made to wear clothes which cover the body to the maximum possible extent, especially after sun set. Light coloured clothes should be worn by the child as dark color clothes attract mosquitoes. Avoid taking the child to places where there is garbage, still water ponds and puddles.
Symptoms of Encephalitis in Children
- Headache and sensitivity to light
- Stiffness in neck
- Rashes, nausea and vomiting
- Insomnia and loss of energy
- Confusion or loss of clarity of thought, difficulty in walking straight and loss of clarity to talk
As this is mostly a virus inflicted disease, encephalitis could also be associated with respiratory infection, sore throat, diarrhea and vomiting all caused by viruses.
Treatment: Viral Encephalitis is not generally contagious but many children may be suffering from the same virus due to its spreading by mosquitoes. When a child is detected of suffering from encephalitis, he or she may need hospitalisation for a few days. During admission in the intensive care unit, the child will also be treated for neurological disorder if any, his blood pressure and heart rate will be constantly monitored. Above all, in case encephalitis is accompanied with fever or vomiting or loose motions, the liquid intake and outflow will be constantly checked to avoid dehydration which could lead to further complications.
Antibiotic drugs are not effective against viral infection so these should not be administered to the child. Instead anti viral drugs could help in treatment of encephalitis. It is suggested that if there are the minutest symptoms of encephalitis, rush the child immediately to the hospital for specialised check up as in some cases the child cannot be fully cured and delay in starting treatment could have long term consequences on the well being of the child. Children less than one year of age and adults beyond 55 are more likely to die due to encephalitis.