Viral infections spread by insect bites (mosquito or tick bites), human-to-human
contact, or animal bites cause encephalitis. The viruses that spread encephalitis
Herpes Simplex Virus (the cold sore virus)
Varicella (chicken pox)
Rubella (German measles)
Enteroviruses (gastointestinal tract)
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) (glandular fever)
Herpes zoster (shingles)
Mosquito-borne viruses (arboviruses). (4,5)
Some insects that bite mammals, domestic animals, and birds lead to the
further spread of the infection and encephalitis. Some examples are include:
West Nile encephalitis (or West Nile fever)
Tick Borne Encephalitis
Murray Valley Encephalitis
St Louis encephalitis
Western equine encephalitis
Eastern equine encephalitis
Colorado tick fever (4).
Bacterial causes include Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) and
Bartonella henselae (cat scratch).
It is rare for encephalitis to be triggered by a brain injury,
brain tumor, drug reaction, lead poisoning or vaccine reaction.
Some of the risk factors of encephalitis include:
Age: Certain types of encephalitis are prevalent
or severe in young children or older adults.
Weakened Immune System: People suffering from AIDS/HIV
and undergoing cancer therapies or organ transplantation are susceptible
Geographic Regions: People visiting or living in
areas prevalent with mosquito-borne viruses are at an increased risk
of being infected with encephalitis.
Outdoor Activities: People with hobbies that include
gardening, jogging, playing golf or bird watching need to exercise extra
care during an encephalitis outbreak.
Season: Mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent
during summer months in the US since it is the prime mating time for
birds and mosquitoes, thus the risk of getting infected is increased
during this season. (7)
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