Encephalitis viral cause and treatment
September 6 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Infections in the brain and spinal cord can cause dangerous inflammation. This inflammation can produce a wide range of symptoms, including fever, headache, or confusion and, in extreme cases, can cause brain damage, stroke, seizures, or even death. Infection of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, is called meningitis. Inflammation of the brain itself is called encephalitis. Myelitis is an infection of the spinal cord. When both the brain and the spinal cord become inflamed, the condition is called encephalomyelitis.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella zoster virus (VZV) are common causes of encephalitis in immunocompromised individuals, although clinical manifestations may be atypical, and thus challenging to recognize. Recently, an increased incidence of HSV and VZV central nervous system infections has been reported in association with novel immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory treatments.


Viral Encephalitis

Acute viral encephalitis may be caused by a wide range of viruses but the most important is herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) because of its severity, especially if untreated, and its good response to specific treatment with acyclovir. The outcome of any CNS viral infection is dependent on both the immune status of the host and the virulence of the infecting virus. In evaluating a patient with suspected viral encephalitis there are 3 essential steps, namely the identification of a true parenchymal virus infection of the brain rather than a non-infective encephalopathy, the distinction of an infectious viral encephalitis from an acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), and then the determination, where possible, of the specific virus involved. In practice, the precise viral cause of the encephalitis may never be established. Analysis of the CSF for herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) has been a significant advance in the diagnosis of HSE as this test has a very high sensitivity and specificity especially with appropriate sample timing. It is essential to commence early treatment with intravenous acyclovir in patients suspected of having HSE because of the remarkable safety and efficacy of this drug and the dangers of delaying potentially effective treatment of life threatening disease. This review outlines the general management approach in patients suspected of having viral encephalitis.


Encephalitis in China

An outbreak of mosquito-borne encephalitis B has killed many people in central Henan province in China. Others have died in the northern province of Shanxi and in neighboring Shaanxi province.


Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics. 2013 Oct 25. Japanese encephalitis: The virus and vaccines. Japanese encephalitis (JE) is an infectious disease of the central nervous system caused by Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a zoonotic mosquito-borne flavivirus. JEV is prevalent in much of Asia and the Western Pacific, with over 4 billion people living at risk of infection. In the absence of antiviral intervention, vaccination is the only strategy to develop long-term sustainable protection against JEV infection. Over the past half-century, a mouse brain-derived inactivated vaccine has been used internationally for active immunization. To date, however, JEV is still a clinically important, emerging, and re-emerging human pathogen of global significance. In recent years, production of the mouse brain-derived vaccine has been discontinued, but 3 new cell culture-derived vaccines are available in various parts of the world. Here we review current aspects of JEV biology, summarize the 4 types of JEV vaccine, and discuss the potential of an infectious JEV cDNA technology for future vaccine development.