Inflammation of brain tissue, usually associated with meningitis. Various viruses (including mumps and cold viruses) can cause mild encephalitis, but herpes and rabies viruses lead to a more serious condition. There is a remote chance that infection with or vaccination against chickenpox, smallpox or whooping cough may also cause encephalitis, possibly through an allergic reaction from the brain. The same sometimes occurs in children after measles. This is one of the reasons for innoculation against these diseases. Bacterial infection of the brain is always encapsulated, and causes a cerebral abscess. Some cases of encephalitis are caused by fungus and parasites, most notoriously toxoplasmosis in an unborn child, which can cause severe brain damage through calcification. Symptoms of encephalitis can vary considerably. In the most frequent mild infection the patient has a fever, headache and slight neck cramp as a result of the meningitis. There are no faculty. Failures, and the patient recovers in 1 to 2 weeks. Severe encephalitis generally causes some loss of brain function. If the condition begins gradually, there are character changes associated with confusion and lowered consciousness. Disturbed brain function shows in speech loss (aphasia) or paralysis of limbs or eye and neck muscles. Symptoms such as epilepsy and spasticity may persist after recovery. Diagnosis is by blood and cerebral fluid tests; an EEG can show characteristic abnormalities. Once the cause has been established, drugs can be prescribed to counteract it – such as antibiotics for bacterial infection. Viral infections are more difficult to treat, because anti-viral drugs are not always effective.

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