Encephalitis is a disease in which inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS) manifests, affecting the brain mainly. Its etiology can be multifactorial, however the most common is due to viral or bacterial infections.
When infections pass into the bloodstream and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), it can reach nerves and certain membranes causing inflammation, which is harmful and damages or destroys neurons.
Among the infections of the Central Nervous System (CNS), encephalitis is considered one of the most important along with meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). When the brain and spinal cord become inflamed, it gives rise to a different condition called encephalomyelitis, and when there is damage to other structures near the brain such as the meninges, meningoencephalitis occurs..
Anyone can suffer from encephalitis, however subjects who have a depressed immune system, people with HIV / AIDS, those who take immunosuppressants, young children and the elderly must take better care of themselves, as they are risk groups in which encephalitis could have severe complications from not being treated promptly and properly.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) states that: “some types of encephalitis can be spread by contact with saliva, nasal discharge, feces or respiratory and throat secretions, they are a often spread through kissing, coughing, or sharing glasses, food utensils, or personal items such as toothbrushes, lipsticks, or cigarettes ".
When traveling or living in regions where there are certain mosquitoes and ticks, the pertinent preventive measures should be taken, such as maintaining the hygiene of your body and your home, using repellent and clothing that covers the body to minimize the risk of contagion, above all at some times of the year and hours of the day, when there is more proliferation of these animals.
The prodromal picture is usually flu-like, includes headache, muscle or joint pain, as well as fever and fatigue. It may be asymptomatic at first or present a picture similar to that of a mild influenza. Sometimes the syndrome becomes acute and fulminant, some of its most severe symptoms are: sensory or motor problems, such as loss of sensitivity or paralysis in certain areas of the face or body, agitation, seizures, loss of consciousness, confusional states, problems of hearing and speech, likewise, hallucinations may occur.
It is important to be very attentive in the care of the health of children and babies, in the latter, the characteristic symptoms of encephalitis include protrusion in fontanelles, which are the "soft spots" between the bones of the baby's skull..
In addition to the symptoms of a nonspecific reaction, focal or generalized neurological symptoms appear. Timely and appropriate diagnosis and treatment can mark the course of the condition and its consequences..
Vallejo divides them into: allergic, demilelinating of undefined etiology and viral or infectious, there are many types of viruses capable of developing encephalitis in humans, as well as bacteria, fungi and parasites, among many other agents. Two main types of encephalitis are identified:
There are many types of encephalitis, due to their varied etiology; we can find the following categories with some representative examples:
Herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE): in most cases it is caused by the reactivation of an infection, the virus manages to survive by remaining in a latent state within the body.
Others are the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and the Epstein-Barr virus, which often causes infectious mononucleosis. Measles, mumps and rubella, were the cause of common encephalitis, this problem has greatly diminished thanks to vaccination.
Some of the viruses transmitted by mosquitoes are arboviruses, they are transmitted by hematophagous arthropods ... Flies, mosquitoes, arachnids and certain ticks, such as: LaCrosse, San Luis and West Nile, the latter is transmitted by the bite of An infected mosquito, likewise, can manifest itself after transplantation of a rejected organ and by transfusions of infected blood or blood products. Older adults and people with immune deficiencies are at higher risk for complications.
Powassan encephalitis is caused by viruses transmitted by ticks, the arbovirus is carried by them, the symptoms appear after 7 to 10 days, the most severe ones come to manifest partial paralysis and coma, it is estimated that in half of the cases it produces permanent neurological damage and mortality is low. Lyme disease can also cause encephalitis.
It must be indicated by a doctor, self-medication for the treatment of symptoms can put the patient's health at risk and lead to unnecessary complications. For example, in certain cases, the use of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is contraindicated due to their antiplatelet activity, despite being widely used drugs. Only a trained doctor can guide you in this regard.
Moore, David P. and Jefferson, James W. (2005). Manual of medical psychiatry. 2nd. Edition. Spain: Mosby / Elsevier.