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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Encephalitis twice in ten years


 pjsf - Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:40 am

In November of 1999 I had encephalitis and I was just recently released again from the hospital for the same problem. The chances of this happening twice in ten years is probably one in a mllion or more. I live in Germany and would just like some input from an American doctor on this situation.

Both times I had fever symptoms which would not go away with Tylenol or Ibuprofin after five days. The spinal tap had nothing present but since I was having problems with my motor skills and the EEG was questionable this is how they concluded the diagnosis. I was given 100ml antibiotics and 500ml aciclovir three times a day and 500ml B12 once a day for twelve days.

I find it hard to believe that with the technology today no one can answer the question of why and what can I do to prevent this in the future. I eat healthy drink plenty of water so what am I doing wrong. I really don´t want to go through this in another ten years.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:57 pm

User avatar Hello --

While recurrent encephalitis is not common, it is less rare than you might have been led to believe. It is also, more often than not, associated with a virus rather than one-time septic (bacterial) types. The most common virus would seem to be herpes zoster, and sometimes prior to the encephalitis episode one may recall some vague cold or flu-like symptoms or mouth ulcers. When this can be ascertained as the cause, acyclovir (an antiviral aimed usually at supressing herpes) is prescribed, and in many cases can at least minimize an episode if not avoid it altogether. This would, of course, require careful diagnostic lab work to make certain this is the cause, first, but it's not that difficult to do. It would be extremely unusual for you to have bacterial encephalitis twice, but since some viruses (and especially herpes) tend to remain latent in the body for a lifetime, this is an understandable cause of recurrent encephalitis with fever.

If you are diagnosed with any form of herpes you could be prescribed acyclovir as a routine medication to suppress the herpes virus and this might well prevent a future episode of encephalitis.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck with this and please follow up with us here as needed.
 pjsf - Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:45 pm

I was wondering if you can tell me the side affects of the antibiotics and aciclovir. I am feeling tired as well as a sensation of swaying. I am sure it will take a while to get back to normal.

I also thought that the spinal fluid would be able to tell the doctors more but there was nothing in it. Is there any test that can say if a person has this type of herpes? In the end I was told I should be aware that this could happen again.

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