Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)

By Dr. Mukesh Kumar in Internal Medicine

Mar 30 , 2022 | 3 min read

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is a disorder that mainly affects the health condition of children and young adults. One of the unique aspects of this disorder is that it can cause a significant number of deaths among the individuals affected by the condition.

Signs and symptoms of AES disease:

Some of the important signs and symptoms associated with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) include the following:

  1. Headache
  2. Abnormal posturing
  3. Vomiting
  4. Seizures
  5. Personality changes
  6. Altered consciousness
  7. Rashes
  8. Sensitivity to light
  9. Memory loss
  10. Drowsiness
  11. Paralysis and coma (in severe cases)

Who is affected by AES?

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) mainly affects children under 15 years of age. In India, the endemic zones of AES are located in Bihar, Assam, eastern UP, and West Bengal. Some of these zones are also found in Tamil Nadu.

Causes of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome:

Some of the common viral causes associated with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome include the following:

  1. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): HSV type 1 and HSV type 2 are known to cause Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). As compared to HSV type 1, HSV type 2 more commonly causes Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
  2. Enteroviruses: Viruses such as coxsackievirus and poliovirus are known to cause flu-like symptoms, eye inflammation, and abdominal pain.
  3. Mosquito-borne viruses: These viruses are known to cause certain types of encephalitis, such as eastern equine encephalitis and western equine encephalitis, to name a few.

Some of the other types of viruses that cause AES disease include tick-borne viruses, rabies viruses, and childhood infections.

Risk factors of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome:

Some of the risk factors associated with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome include:

  1. Weakened immune system: Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS, and patients who are consuming immune-suppressing drugs are also at high risk of being affected with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
  2. Age: It is found that children below 15 years of age are most affected by AES.
  3. Season of the year: Some of the AES types, including mosquito or tick-borne virus-caused diseases, are more common in summer.

Diagnosis of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome:

After the patient mentions the signs associated with AES disease, the patient is recommended to undergo the following diagnostic tests:

  1. Brain imaging: Certain brain imaging techniques such as MRI or CT are first recommended for the patient. This helps to determine the presence or growth of brain-related swellings such as tumors.
  2. Electroencephalogram (EEG): In this test, electrodes are used to record the patient’s brain activity, which shows if there is the presence of abnormal patterns in the patient’s brain.
  3. Spinal tap (lumbar puncture): In this diagnostic test, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is taken out and tested to find out the presence of certain viruses or infection-causing agents that are responsible for causing infection and inflammatory conditions in and around the brain.
  4. Brain biopsy: A brain biopsy is done in case the symptoms in a patient worsen, and the latest treatments are not working towards improvement in the patient’s health.
  5. Other lab tests: Some other lab tests such as urine, blood, or excretions from the back of the throat are performed based on the patient’s case and current severity.

Treatment options of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome:

Patients diagnosed with AES disease are recommended to get bed rest, plenty of fluids, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Antiviral drugs: 

Patients who are diagnosed with virus-caused AES are recommended antiviral medications such as Acyclovir, Ganciclovir, and Foscarnet.

Supportive care: 

This forms a crucial part of the treatment and includes the following:

  1. Careful monitoring of breathing and heart function with breathing assistance
  2. Proper hydration, including intravenous fluids that comprise essential minerals
  3. Corticosteroids are given to reduce swelling and pressure within the skull
  4. Anticonvulsant medications like phenytoin prevent seizures

Follow-up therapy:  

Follow-up therapy forms an integral part of the treatment plan for patients with AES disease. Some of the recommended types of follow-up therapy include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychotherapy.

To receive timely consultation and guidance from a top neurology specialist at Max Hospital, book an appointment today.