Encephalitis and Meningitis (cont.)

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What are encephalitis symptoms and signs?

The signs and symptoms of encephalitis can range from very mild flu-like symptoms to potentially life-threatening events. Signs and symptoms of encephalitis include sudden fever, headache, vomiting, visual sensitivity to light, stiff neck and back, confusion, drowsiness, unsteady gait, and irritability. Loss of consciousness, poor responsiveness, seizures, muscle weakness, sudden severe dementia, and memory loss can also be found in patients with encephalitis.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of encephalitis should see a doctor immediately.

Is encephalitis contagious?

Infectious forms of encephalitis are contagious. Viral and many bacterial forms of encephalitis are contagious. Several forms of bacterial encephalitis can be spread by respiratory and throat excretions. Encephalitis can also be caused by an infection in the body that spreads to the brain. Noninfectious encephalitis, such as from diseases systemic lupus erythematosus and Behçet's disease, are not contagious.

Is it possible to prevent encephalitis? Is there an encphalitis vaccine?

Basic steps to avoid spread of infections (hand washing, covering mouth when coughing, etc.) can help prevent encephalitis.

Some vaccinations for bacterial diseases can help prevent encephalitis.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).

What causes meningitis?

Meningitis may be caused by many different viruses and bacteria. It can also be caused by diseases that can trigger inflammation of tissues of the body without infection (such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Behçet's disease).

What are meningitis symptoms and signs?

The classic signs and symptoms of meningitis are headache, fever, and stiff neck (in adults and older children). Symptoms of meningitis may appear suddenly and also include nausea and vomiting. Changes in behavior, such as confusion, sleepiness, and difficulty waking up, are other important symptoms. In infants, symptoms of meningitis are often much less specific and may include irritability or tiredness, poor feeding, and fever.

Especially early in the disease, meningitis can have symptoms similar to the flu.

Some types of meningitis can be deadly if not treated promptly. Anyone experiencing symptoms of meningitis should see a doctor immediately.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/16/2015

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