Viral Central Nervous System Infections in Children
Your central nervous system (CNS) is your brain and spinal cord. A viral infection can affect one or both of these organs. Infection can result in:
Viral CNS infections can be very serious.
The first sign is usually a fever, followed by crankiness, not wanting to eat, headache, neck pain, and sometimes seizure
Most children recover, but a few go into a coma and die
A few children have permanent complications such as deafness, mental difficulties, seizures, or weakness of an arm or leg
Doctors do a spinal tap to see if your child has meningitis or encephalitis
There's usually no specific treatment for a viral infection of the brain or spinal cord
Symptoms vary by age.
Babies usually have:
In some babies, the first sign is a seizure.
Children may have:
With encephalitis caused by herpes simplex virus infection, infants and children may have a rash of red spots and fluid-filled blisters on the skin or in the eyes or mouth.
To know if your child has meningitis or encephalitis, doctors do:
In a spinal tap, the doctor puts a needle into the lower back to draw fluid from around the spinal cord. Sometimes doctors also do:
EEG to see your child's brain waves
MRI and CT scans of your child’s brain