Encephalitis is a rare inflammatory disease of the brain caused by a viral infection. Some 1.500 to 2,000 cases are reported yearly in the United States.
Epidemics are usually caused by insects like mosquitoes such as the one that hit St. Louis in 1933. The insect-borne type, which one can acquire from either the Aedes or Culex mosquito, is called primary encephalitis and is picked up from domestic or wild animals.
Typical symptoms of encephalitis are acute and sudden headache, fever, restlessness, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, there is stiffness of the neck muscles, tremors and drowsiness that may lead to coma.
“In infants, a bulging in the soft spot of the skull (the fontanelle) and a stiff neck are the key symptoms. In…