What is generally understood by encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain and Herpes encephalitis is encephalitis that is associated with the herpes simplex virus. Simply put, this is Herpes of the brain.
This form of encephalitis, which is potentially fatal, accounts for up to 20% of all encephalitis cases and can occur in any age group at any time of the year and is seen occurring in equal proportion in both males as well as females.
If left untreated, this disease has a mortality rate of 70%, making it an extremely dangerous condition. From among those that recover from herpes encephalitis, as many as 40% are left with neurological problems.
From among those that receive treatment, about 20% still die. About half of the survivors of Herpes encephalitis may end up with long term neurological damage, though a small proportion do regain full recovery and suffer no brain damage.
Though herpes encephalitis is very rare affecting only about 2 individuals in every one million, it is a very serious illness with a high morbidity rate and in respect of which one must be extremely vigilant. The symptoms of herpes encephalitis are:
- Herpes simplex itself is a common virus that routinely affects many people who will show symptoms such as cold sores on the lips, eyes and nose and it is the same virus, which in rare cases will progress to the brain from the nasal cavity and through the sinuses and take the form of herpes encephalitis.
- The symptoms of herpes encephalitis may include a sore throat, headache, a runny nose, fever, vomiting, and a stiff neck. These are the symptoms that the presence of the virus may present to begin with.
- As it is the brain that is affected and inflamed by herpes encephalitis, many more serious symptoms manifest themselves as the disease progresses. The sufferer may experience changes in personality and hallucinations. Most individuals experience an altered mental state and confusion apart from experiencing changes in personality. As many as 71% display psychiatric symptoms.
- The person may suffer from convulsions or seizures and there may even be paralysis resulting from the virus. The sufferer may even go into coma due to infection by this virus
- Focal weakness and memory loss is also observed in a large proportion of sufferers
- Visual field loss is also experienced by some