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Encephalitis in Children- Everything You Should Know

Recently, around 30 children died at the BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, India in a time span of 3 days. In the city’s largest Government Hospital, reports had come in that these deaths had happened due to lack of oxygen in the hospital for some time. Yet, even before and after the incident, children have been losing their lives continuously. After coming in media’s attention, the cause of these deaths was found to be Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). This illness has thus raised many red flags in the entire country.

What is Encephalitis?

Encephalitis literally means an inflammation of the brain. The inflammation causes the brain to swell which leads to changes in the nervous system of the child which thereby causes mental confusion, changes in mental state and even seizures.

Who is more prone to Encephalitis?

From all the cases that have been registered in India and abroad, it has been observed that children and elderly people are more prone to this brain inflammation than a healthy adult. Basically, it affects people who have a weaker or underdeveloped immune system.

What are the symptoms of Encephalitis?

Encephalitis on its own is somewhat hard to diagnose and identify as the initial symptoms are rather basic and the sure shot way to identify Encephalitis is a brain biopsy which is a highly invasive process. But, there are certain symptoms that you can look out for in your child-

- Fever

- Encephalopathy ie., Child becomes more sleepy and drowsy than usual

- Change in the child’s behaviour both socially and culturally.

- Seizures

- Confusion and hallucinations

- Skin rashes and sensitivity to light

- A headache and even loss of ability in parts of the body

How is Encephalitis caused?

It’s not just a brain infection that causes Encephalitis contrary to popular belief. Sometimes, Encephalitis may occur in children because of other viruses and immune infections. Some causes of Encephalitis are-

- Mosquito bite

- Due to any other illness, the child is suffering from

- An autoimmune cause

- Immune system fighting a virus that no longer exists

Treatment and Prevention of Encephalitis

The treatment depends majorly on the age and general health of the child and also the severity of the condition. In most cases, the child needs to be admitted to the hospital for observation and a controlled environment. There is no home treatment as such that you can use and thus it is very important to consult the doctor immediately.

In order to prevent it, it is advised to make the child wear long sleeve clothes, not remain out when there are a lot of mosquitoes, get vaccinations on time and be in a healthy overall environment.

It is important to remember that this infection can be deadly for the child and thus there should be no delay in consulting the doctor immediately if you suspect this illness in your child. 

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