Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 30, 2022, 8:01

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is the clinical diagnosis of a health condition with acute onset of fever that further affects the mental state of the patient. It causes memory loss, delirium, and even coma in some cases. It mainly affects children and young adults, under the age of 15.

Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome is known by many names. Locally, it's called Chamki Fever or Litchi Virus. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a big health concern in India and there are frequent breakouts in different parts of the country.

Types and Causes of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

There are two main types of Encephalitis Syndrome:

  1. Primary encephalitis: Primary encephalitis occurs when the virus or bacteria of the disease directly infects the brain. This kind of disease also points out that an old inactive virus in the body (due to some previous medical condition) has become active and has affected the brain. Such an infection can either be limited to one area of the body or spread to various parts.
  2. Secondary encephalitis: This is also called post-infection encephalitis. Secondary encephalitis is a result of a faulty immune system. While recovering from a disease, sometimes, the immune system accidentally attacks healthy cells of the brain along with infected ones, resulting in Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome.

In India, Encephalopathy Syndrome is mainly caused by the Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV). Other than that, Influenza A Virus, pneumonia, Chandipura virus, Parvovirus B4, dengue, Epstein-Barr virus, Herpes simplex virus, and measles are also responsible for the spread of the disease. The aetiology in most cases, however, is still unidentified.

Symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

The symptoms of Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome can vary from mild to severe. These include:

  • High Fever
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Immobility in the neck and back
  • Mental Confusion
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Loss of Memory
  • Speech and Hearing Issues
  • Delirium
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Loss of sensation in certain parts of the body (sometimes leading to paralysis)
  • Loss of consciousness (leading to coma)

The following symptoms can be observed in infants and young children:

  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Body stiffness
  • Bulging of fontanels of an infant's skull
  • Irregular feeding
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Risk Factors of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

Some of the risk factors that increase the chances of being affected by the disease are:

  1. Age: Infants, children, young adults and elderly people are more prone to be infected by Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. Their weak immune system adds to the risk of them being exposed to the disease.
  2. Habitat: People who live in poor hygiene conditions are likely to get sick with the disease. The areas dominated by mosquitos and ticks have a higher chance of suffering the outbreak of the infection.
  3. Weak immune system: People with weak immune systems can be affected easily when compared to those with strong immunity. This includes people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and people suffering from other physical problems.

Prevention of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome:

The spread of Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome can be prevented by taking the following measures:

  • Maintain clean and hygienic living conditions.
  • Use mosquito repellent and dress accordingly in order to avoid infection.
  • Utensils should not be shared among family members.
  • Get proper vaccinations to avoid viral and bacterial infections.
  • Stagnant water should be removed from the house immediately.
  • Use hand sanitisers before taking meals.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a major public health concern in rural areas. The inflammation of the brain in young children affects the quality of their life. Awareness regarding the disease should be spread and preventive measures should be taken to avoid another outbreak.

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FAQs on Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

Q.1. Can we treat Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome?

Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome can be treated with antibiotics, antiviral medications and necessary care.

Q.2. How is acute Acute Encephalitis Syndrome diagnosed?

Doctors might choose the following procedures to diagnose acute Acute Encephalitis Syndrome :

  • CT Scan or MRI
  • Blood Tests
  • Brain biopsy
  • Electroencephalograph
  • Spinal tap/ Lumbar puncture

Q.3. How long does Acute Encephalopathy Syndrome last?

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome can last up to a week. It can take many weeks and sometimes, even months to be fully recovered for the patients.

Q.4. Can Acute Encephalitis Syndrome lead to permanent brain damage?

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome results in inflammation of the brain, which is mostly curable. In rare cases, it can lead to permanent brain damage or death.