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Encephalitis

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, usually caused by an infection. It's a rare but serious condition.

Encephalitis may start off with flu-like symptoms. More serious symptoms include confusion, seizures, difficulty speaking and feeling weak.

Encephalitis needs urgent treatment in hospital. Depending on the cause, treatment may include antiviral medicines, steroids or antibiotics.

Some of the infections that cause encephalitis can be prevented with vaccines, such as the MMR and Japanese encephalitis vaccines.

Read more on the NHS website.

Encephalitis may start off with flu-like symptoms. More serious symptoms include confusion, seizures, difficulty speaking and feeling weak.

Symptoms of encephalitis

Encephalitis sometimes starts off with flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and headache.

More serious symptoms come on over hours, days or weeks, including:

Dial 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else has these more serious symptoms.

Read more on the NHS website.

Encephalitis needs urgent treatment in hospital. Depending on the cause, treatment may include antiviral medicines, steroids or antibiotics.

Medical treatments

Encephalitis needs to be treated in a hospital. The earlier treatment is started, the more successful it's likely to be.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but may include:

  • antiviral medicines
  • steroid injections
  • treatments to help control the immune system 
  • antibiotics or antifungal medicines
  • painkillers to reduce discomfort or a high temperature
  • medicine to control seizures or fits
  • support with breathing, such as oxygen through a face mask or a breathing machine (ventilator)

How long someone with encephalitis needs to stay in hospital can range from a few days to several weeks or even months.

Read more on the NHS website.

Some of the infections that cause encephalitis can be prevented with vaccines, such as the MMR and Japanese encephalitis vaccines.

Read more on the NHS website.