Acute Encephalitis in Indian Children: What It Is, How It Affects Its Patients, And How To Treat It?
Acute Encephalitis is a severe condition that occurs in children across the country. It can be caused due to several reasons. The symptoms of this disease can harm the patients in different ways. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) causes sudden onset of high fever, and brain inflammation usually caused by infections such as Enterovirus and mosquito-borne Japanese Encephalitis Virus.
The Indian Journal of Pediatrics reported that AES is one of the most common causes of acute encephalitis and encephalopathy in children. This blog will look at different causes, symptoms, and treatments used in such cases to reduce the patient’s symptoms.
What Causes Acute Encephalitis in Children?
There may be several reasons why there has been a spike in severe Encephalitis cases in India. First, the country has a low vaccination rate, and many people don’t have access to vaccinations. Second, the area of India is inhabited by an incredible number of insects. These insects may be carriers of the virus for this disease.
Some of these insects also breed in the stagnant water of the rivers and paddy fields. They might bite people and infect them with the virus. Besides that, the disease can be also be caused by any of the Enteroviruses that are spread by mosquito bites, contaminated food, drinking water, or contact with an infected person (such as shaking hands, kissing, or sexual intercourse).
What Are The Symptoms of Acute Encephalitis in Children?
- Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) virus is a rare condition that primarily affects children below 15. It occurs mainly in Eastern India, Bangladesh, and parts of Africa such as Nigeria and Sudan. The onset is sudden, and the cause of the condition and its spread is uncertain. The main signs of acute Encephalitis are seizure, delirium, impairment of consciousness, meningism, and movement disorder.
- There are several telltale signs that your child may be at risk for Encephalitis. You should notice if your child does not grow at a normal pace, has trouble moving, seizures, or has difficulty seeing, hearing, or talking. Also, take note if there are abnormal lumps or bruises on your child’s body, or if your child has a fever that does not go away. If your child is exhibiting many of these signs at one time, they should be taken to a doctor right away.
- A characteristic of chronic Encephalitis is the occurrence of three or four recurrent fevers every day, which is the main manifestation of infection of the central nervous system (CNS), with immune reactions of the body caused by the invasion of the virus. The immune reaction results in the inflammation of the meninges, and the damage of the surrounding brain tissue.
- Encephalitis is very dangerous both to the patient and to society. If left untreated, the consequences of the disease can be devastating, causing brain damage, coma, and even death. The condition is fatal in about 1/3rd of the cases and can lead to permanent brain damage in the rest. It can be fatal and is usually treated at a hospital with oxygen and paracetamol.
How Is Encephalitis Diagnosed in a Child?
Encephalitis is brain inflammation or swelling that can be dangerous, especially for children. However, the good news is that it’s usually treatable if diagnosed early.
- The first step towards proper diagnosis is to establish the presence of the actual virus. The child will be given special fluid to drink, which will then be drawn out of their spinal cord with a syringe.
- The next step involves taking a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid will be drawn with a needle directly into a small vial. If the doctor finds the liquid to be cloudy and yellowish, this may indicate the presence of an infection. Additionally, a doctor may take a sample of the fluid to test it for evidence of a virus known to cause Encephalitis. If the fluid tests positive, this could help a doctor narrow down a diagnosis to a specific type of Encephalitis.
- Next, the child will undergo an MRI to determine whether the swelling has spread to their brain. After this, they will be given an EEG to observe the electrical activity in their brain. With any luck, the swelling will be found to be localized to their brainstem, meaning it’s more likely to be treatable.
- The doctor will use a CT scan to inspect the brain visually. If the doctor notices a possible abnormality, they could order a lumbar puncture to take a sample of the brain fluid. The doctor will also check for signs of aseptic meningitis. In aseptic meningitis, the doctor will use a skin test to rule out allergies to pollen or mold spores.
- Another thing the doctor will check for is if the child can pass urine without a challenge. If they are, it means their kidneys are functioning properly, which is another indicator of health. It is also vital that doctors look at the child’s mental state. If they act in any way that is not normal, it may signify that something is wrong. This could mean in most cases that their brains are not functioning properly which can sometimes be caused by Encephalitis. Finally, the doctor will check if the child has any seizures.
What Is The Treatment for Acute Encephalitis?
Treatment for Encephalitis focuses on alleviating the symptoms with antipyretics, intravenous fluids, and electrolytes. You can also drink liquids like Pedialyte due to the dehydration that comes with the fever. Antibiotics may be prescribed for secondary infections. Some people may also need to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, but this is rare.
Although Encephalitis is a worrisome and potentially dangerous condition among children, the right precautions and treatment can help limit its spread and curb its damaging impacts on the health of children in India. Appropriate preventive, diagnostic, and treatment measures are key measures for ensuring safety. If you have any further questions, queries, or concerns about Acute Encephalitis, do drop us a comment and we will get back to you!