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Encephalitis Causes,
Encephalitis Symptoms

How do you get Encephalitis?

Encephalitis triggered by a vaccine reaction can manifest as flu-like symptoms like allergic reactions, bacterial infections, fever, cough and body aches.

What are Encephalitis symptoms?

Encephalitis can happen following a vaccination.

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What is encephalitis?

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. The condition often manifests as mild flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, allergic reactions or memory loss. In severe cases, individuals may experience seizures, difficulty with vision, hearing, and speech, and loss of consciousness. If left untreated, brain inflammation caused by Encephalitis can cause severe brain damage and result in coma or even death.


Can vaccines cause encephalitis?

While vaccines are, for the most part, safe procedures that prevent communities from suffering outbreaks of deadly disease, they have been linked to serious side effects. In rare cases, patients can suffer from secondary encephalitis resulting from a vaccine. In fact, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), there have been more than 1,100 cases of encephalitis following a vaccine.

To understand how a vaccine can trigger encephalitis, it is important to first differentiate between primary and secondary encephalitis. Primary encephalitis occurs when a virus or other agent directly infects the brain. The infection may be concentrated in one area or widespread. A primary infection may be a reactivation of a virus that had been inactive after a previous illness. Secondary encephalitis, also known as post-infection encephalitis, results from a faulty immune system reaction to an infectious agent somewhere in the body. Rather than attacking only the cells causing the infection, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the brain, causing inflammation.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program recognizes the rare association between encephalitis and vaccinations. The following vaccines have been linked to encephalitis:

  1. Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR);
  2. Diphtheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis (whooping cough) (DTP/DTap);
  3. Influenza; and
  4. Varicella or Chickenpox.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with Encephalitis following a vaccination, you may be entitled to compensation. Our firm has successfully recovered millions of dollars in compensation for individuals across the country who have suffered from Encephalitis following a vaccination.

Recently, My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was interviewed by Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about vaccine injuries such as Encephalitis, along with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which is a federal compensation program for vaccine injuries in the United States. Paul and Jodie also discuss the frequency of these injuries and the lack of public knowledge about the VICP..

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Diagnosing encephalitis

Children and older adults with vaccine-related encephalitis will typically experience signs and symptoms within two (2) weeks after the date of vaccination. In most cases, these symptoms will only last a few days. However, parents should monitor their children closely after vaccination and report any symptoms to a medical provider for further treatment. Common signs of vaccine-induced encephalitis include:

  • Fever and other flu-like symptoms
  • Signs of neurological dysfunction
  • Muscle weakness and pain
  • Coordination problems
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion or altered level of consciousness
  • Seizures

If a doctor suspects Encephalitis based on the signs and symptoms above, there are many ways to confirm the diagnosis. An MRI of the brain and a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) are commonly performed. An MRI can detect any abnormalities or swelling. A spinal tap is done to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, the protective fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. If the number of white blood cells in the sample is high, there is strong indication of inflammation in the brain and meninges. Laboratory tests can also help to confirm the diagnosis. Samples of blood, urine or excretions from the back of the throat can be tested for infectious agents. Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests can also be performed to show abnormal patterns of electrical brain activity. Finally, in rare cases, doctors can remove a small sample of brain tissue for testing.


How to treat encephalitis

Most cases of Encephalitis respond well to rest, fluids, and antiviral or anti-inflammatory treatment. These medications are generally well-tolerated although have been known to case side effects such as kidney damage. More severe cases of encephalitis can require:

  • Hospitalization
  • Intravenous fluids to ensure proper hydration and levels of essential minerals
  • Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures
  • Corticosteroids to reduce swelling and pressure, and
  • Breathing assistance

Residual complications of encephalitis may also require physical, occupational, speech or psychotherapy.


Compensation for encephalitis from a vaccine

If you or your child have received a TDaP/DTaPMMR, or another vaccine and were subsequently diagnosed with Encephalitis, you may be eligible for compensation from a federal trust fund called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Call us today for a free case evaluation with one of our vaccine injury lawyers.


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Page last reviewed and updated: March 10, 2021

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