Acute Disseminated Encephalitis is encephalitis that affects many areas of brain and spinal cord, instead of being a localized problem. This condition mainly affects the myelin sheath, and is responsible for the transmission of signals across the nervous system. Any problem with the myelin sheath also affects the transmission of neural signals.
The condition is common in children. The exact cause is not known. However, viral infections and MMR vaccination may contribute to the disease. Other predisposing factors include trauma and genetic factors.
Signs and Symptoms
It starts with fever, stiffness of the neck, vomiting and extreme fatigue. In later stages, neurological problems including clumsiness and confusion are seen. Patients with very severe cases of acute disseminated encephalitis exhibit blindness and paralysis of one side of the body. It may even result in a coma. Most of the patients completely recover from the condition. But, in some patients, only partial recovery is possible. The chances of getting a second infection are also very high. In some patients, it may be followed by multiple sclerosis.
Your doctor will take a detailed medical history including any previous infections, current medications and any previous episode of acute disseminated encephalitis. A physical examination is also conducted to confirm the signs and symptoms. A neurological examination is necessary to check the functioning of the nervous system. MRI scans are also done to rule out other diseases including multiple sclerosis. Your doctor may also do a lumbar puncture. This is done to examine the cerebrospinal fluid.
Symptomatic treatment is the main focus in cases of acute disseminated encephalitis. Anti vomiting drugs are given for vomiting, and pain killers are given for headache. Administration of corticosteroids intravenously has been proven to be a very effective treatment. Plasmapheresis, or blood purification, is also done in some patients. Some patients may need immunoglobulin therapy for recovery from the condition.
Acute disseminated encephalitis can become fatal. So, the treatment should be started as early as possible. Accurate diagnosis is also very important to treat the condition in very early stages. The prognosis is good in almost 90% of patients. In cases of extensive damage to the nervous system, some damage may remain resulting in impairment. In short, if the severity of the symptoms is less, you can expect faster recovery.