Encephalitis and Meningitis

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is encephalitis?

Encephalitis is brain inflammation.

What causes encephalitis?

  • Encephalitis is a rare condition that is most often caused by viruses.
  • It can also be caused by noninfectious diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Behçet's disease.
  • The leading cause of severe encephalitis is the herpes simplex virus.
  • Other causes include enterovirus infections or mosquito-borne viruses.
  • The very young and the elderly are more likely to have more severe encephalitis.

Exposure to viruses can occur through breathing in respiratory droplets from infected people, certain insect bites, and direct skin contact.

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

Anyone experiencing symptoms of encephalitis should see a doctor immediately.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2016
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