Treatment is based on the causal agent. While bacterial encephalitis
is treated with antibiotics, viral encephalitis due to herpes simplex
is treated with antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, ganciclovir, foscarnet,
ribovarin, and AZT.
Corticosteroids such as
prednisone and dexamethasone are used to reduce inflammation and
brain swelling. Anticonvulsants such as dilantin and phenytoin control
seizures and acetaminophen or any antipyretic is used to reduce
the fever. (5)
Arboviral encephalitis has no cure and palliative care only helps
relieve the symptoms. Palliative care (remedy that alleviates symptoms
without curing) such as intravenous fluids helps reduce dehydration,
antibiotics prevent secondary infections and other medications prevent
complications. Diuretics such as furosemide and mannitol help reduce
intracranial pressure and benzodiazepines such as lorazepam [Ativan®]
prevent seizures (9).
The following measures can be adopted to prevent
Seek early treatment for any high fever or infections.
Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts to avoid
ticks and mosquitoes when in forests or grassy
Use insect repellant on exposed areas of the
Avoid spending a long time outdoors during dusk
when insects tend to bite.
A Caesarian section (C-section) should be
performed if the mother has active herpes lesions
to protect the newborn.
Vaccinate children against viruses that can cause
encephalitis (measles, mumps).
Japanese encephalitis can be prevented with three
doses of a vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that
a vaccine must be offered to the travelers spending a month or more
in Asia. However, travelers spending less than 30 days can receive the
vaccine if the area is experiencing an epidemic outbreak.
The Elderly and pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing
symptoms with infections hence special caution needs to be taken by
these two groups when traveling abroad. (1).
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