Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, usually caused by a direct viral infection or a hyper-sensitivity reaction to a virus or foreignprotein. Brain inflammation caused by a bacterial infection is sometimes called cerebritis. The syndrome of encephalitis frequently presents with fever, headache and an altered level of consciousness.
Between 1979 and 2006 there were above 1000 encephalitis-associated deaths in Australia. The average annual death rate was 2.3 per 1 million population.
Unlike bacteria, viruses are difficult to treat. Antiviral medications only work on a limited number of viruses. Treatment aims to reduce the severity of the symptoms Pain-killing drugs, Anticonvulsive drugs etc canbe used.
The severity of viral encephalitis depends on the particular virus and how quickly treatment was given. Generally, the acute phase of the illness lasts around one or two weeks, and the symptoms either disappear quickly or subside slowly over a period of time.