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Most people with viral encephalitis have either no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms, such as the following:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Aches in muscles or joints
  • Fatigue or weakness

More-serious cases require prompt medical care. Additional signs and symptoms of more serious encephalitis may include the following:

  • Confusion, agitation or hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Loss of sensation or paralysis in certain areas of the face or body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Double vision
  • Perception of foul smells, such as burned meat or rotten eggs
  • Problems with speech or hearing
  • Loss of consciousness

Signs and symptoms in infants and young children may also include:

  • Bulging in the soft spots (fontanels) of the skull in infants
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body stiffness
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Poor feeding or not waking for a feeding
  • Irritability

When to see a doctor

Get immediate care if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms associated with more-severe cases of encephalitis. Severe headache, fever and altered consciousness require urgent care.

Infants and young children with any signs or symptoms of encephalitis should receive urgent care.

May. 15, 2014

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