What Are the Signs of Viral Encephalitis in Adults?


Quick Answer

Signs of viral encephalitis in adults can include seizures, confusion, fever, cough and sore throat, says University of Maryland Medical Center. Other effects depend on which area of the brain is infected, and can include hallucinations, difficulty with movement coordination, muscle weakness, erratic body temperature and tremors. People with viral encephalitis can be delusional and agitated and suffer disorientation. Most cases of viral encephalitis are mild and brief, but the disease can be life-threatening.

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Full Answer

Viral encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord caused by one of several viruses including measles, West Nile virus, the virus that causes chicken pox, Epstein-Barr virus or herpes, explains University of Maryland Medical Center. Risk for adult viral encephalitis goes up in advanced age, and other risk factors include exposure to mosquitoes, travel to areas where the disease is common, exposure to ticks, having a weak immune system and being unvaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.

Encephalitis is different from meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord, but they often occur together, says University of Maryland Medical Center. When both conditions are present, additional symptoms can include stiff neck, light sensitivity, headache and vomiting. In addition to viruses, encephalitis can be caused by toxins, fungi, bacteria or parasites.

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