Infections - Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

Viral Encephalitis: What are its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment?

By S.I. (staff writer) , published on March 29, 2023

Medicine Telehealth Health fever virus

What is Viral Encephalitis?

Viral encephalitis is an infection leading to the inflammation of the brain, caused by a virus [1]. It can be a serious illness that affects the brain's normal functioning and can even lead to death if not treated promptly.


It is important to note that different types of viruses, including cytomegalovirus, West Nile virus [2], and Epstein-Barr virus, can cause viral encephalitis. In some cases, viral encephalitis can be prevented through vaccination.


However, it is important to seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms related to viral encephalitis. These symptoms may include fever, headache, confusion, and seizures. In addition, if a person has been exposed to a virus that can cause encephalitis, they should also seek medical attention.


Treatment may include medication, supportive care, and physical and occupational therapy therapies. Early detection and diagnosis are key to a successful outcome.



What are the Symptoms of Viral Encephalitis?


The symptoms of viral encephalitis can vary depending on the virus that has caused it and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Alertness
  • Seizures
  • changes in behavior


Less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, and difficulty speaking.


In some cases, individuals may experience memory loss and difficulty concentrating. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider at once.



What are the Causes of Viral Encephalitis?

Common viruses responsible for viral encephalitis include:

  • herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • enteroviruses
  • arboviruses
  • West Nile virus


In developed countries, HSV-1 is one of the top causes of viral encephalitis [3]. Other viruses that can cause encephalitis include measles, mumps, rabies, and influenza. In some cases, a virus that causes meningitis can also cause encephalitis. While bacterial or fungal infections could also be the reasons for encephalitis.


In addition, some people are at risk of encephalitis due to weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if any signs or symptoms of encephalitis appear.



Treatment Options for Viral Encephalitis:

Treatment options for Viral Encephalitis vary depending on the severity and are usually supportive [4]. However, common treatments may include:


  • Antiviral medications: These medications reduce the severity of the symptoms and help prevent the virus from spreading.


  • Corticosteroids: These medications help reduce inflammation, alleviate the symptoms and help speed up the recovery process.


  • Immunoglobulin therapy: This therapy aids in boosting the body’s immunity, which then prevents from further infections.


  • Surgery: In the case of an abscess, surgery may be necessary to remove the infected tissue.


  • Intravenous therapy: This therapy provides fluids and medications directly into the bloodstream.


In addition, supportive care such as nutrition, rest, and fluids are important treatment components. ICP monitoring (intracranial pressure) is also necessary to manage patients with viral encephalitis [5].








1- Viral Encephalitis - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (

2- West Nile virus associated with equid encephalitis in Brazil, 2018 - PubMed (

3- SciELO - Brazil - Viral encephalitis Viral encephalitis

4- Viral Encephalitis - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (

5- Emergency Neurologic Life Support: Meningitis and Encephalitis - PubMed (

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