Encephalitis in previously healthy children

Claire E. Fraley, David R. Pettersson, Dawn Nolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Encephalitis is defined as altered mental status for more than 24 hours accompanied by 2 or more findings concerning for inflammation of the brain parenchyma: Fever, seizures or other focal neurologic disorders, cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis, and abnormal neuroimaging and electroencephalographic findings. Herpes simplex virus causes the most severe form of virus-induced encephalitis; the early administration of acyclovir can improve the prognosis of this disease. The rising interest in autoimmune causes of encephalitis, most notably anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, should prompt the clinician to consider immunomodulatory treatments, which may improve outcomes. A broad testing panel may be necessary to detect the etiologic agent; a few published pediatric cases suggest that infectious and autoimmune causes may occur concurrently in the same patient with encephalitis. More than 40% of children diagnosed as having encephalitis will not return to their previous level of neurologic function after resolution of their disease, although outcomes are highly variable depending on the etiologic agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-75
Number of pages8
JournalPediatrics in review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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