Tick-borne encephalitis (brain infection)

Head | Neurology | Tick-borne encephalitis (brain infection) (Disease)


Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain that usually result from a viral infection. When the brain becomes inflamed, irritated large-volume and normal blood flow is impaired, leading to symptoms such as confusion, fever and headache (severe headache). Encephalitis is a disease quite rare.

Most people bitten by ticks or mosquitoes infected develop no symptoms and only a small number of people who develop symptoms after the bite develops encephalitis. Encephalitis caused by arboviruses tends to occur more frequently in summer and early autumn, when ticks and mosquitoes bite people who spend more time outside. Although it is very rare, infection with rabies (rabies virus) may also lead to encephalitis, which is fatal if treatment is not established before the appearance symptoms. It is important to seek emergency medical attention if encephalitis is suspected.

Key symptoms are fever, headache (headache) and severe confusion. Other symptoms that may occur, may include: abnormal sensitivity to light (photosensitivity); nausea and vomiting; stiffness of neck and back; lack of energy, sluggishness (lethargy); dizziness.

May develop more serious symptoms, including: seizures or tremors; changes in personality; loss of memory; difficulty learning and understanding; anxiety, nervousness; confused speech; hallucinations, which are seeing or hearing things that are not there on the spot; delirium, which is a sudden change in mental status, leading to confusion and unusual behavior.

Causes and Risk factors

The most common cause is herpes simplex virus, the same virus that causes cold sores that appear and genital herpes. Other viruses are frequently involved in causing encephalitis include the viruses that cause mumps, rubella, measles, influenza and mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus). These viruses can cause serious diseases, but rarely can infect the brain and cause encephalitis. Another group of viruses, called arbovirusi can spread encephalitis through bites, especially mosquitoes and the ticks.

The most severe form of encephalitis can lead to coma and death, especially if left untreated. Generally, symptoms appear abruptly and are severe from the beginning, are more likely to produce a life-threatening encephalitis. Although complications can occur as speech or memory problems, most recover completely if treatment is establishing emergency encephalitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are infected with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and do not experience any symptoms, or only mild first-stage symptoms, you will usually get better without treatment. Iburofen or paracetamol can be taken to relieve any flu-like symptoms. In cases of stage-two TBE, there is no specific medication used to treat the infection.

If you develop a severe form of viral meningitis and /or encephalitis, you need to go to hospital where you will be given sup...