A study conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) claims to have discovered hitherto lesser-known causes of two most common infections of the central nervous system – encephalitis and bacterial meningitis — found in the region.
The first-of-its-kind study conducted by doctors will help in developing preventive measures and effective treatment.
Encephalitis and bacterial meningitis are most common neurological conditions where the membranes around the brain and the spinal cord (CNS), are inflamed. The severity of both the diseases range from mild to fatal and in some cases leading in death. “Bacterial meningitis is very serious and can be deadly. While most people with meningitis recover, permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities can result from the infection,” according to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms of encephalitis include headaches, fever, confusion, dizziness and in some cases may lead to permanent brain damage and coma, convulsions, seizures and hallucinations.
To know about the main cause behind the two most common neurological diseases, a threeyear-long study was done by the Advanced Paediatrics Centre.
A study was conducted between July 2013 to December 2015, at pediatric emergency and pediatric intensive care unit of the PGIMER. Above 300 infants between 3 months and 14 years of age who were suffering from acute encephalitic or meningitis syndrome were enrolled.
Most children presented with symptoms like convulsions and fever and reduced consciousness. Out of 333, 68% had acute encephalitis and 32% had acute bacterial meningitis.
A definitive cause could be identified in about 70% children. “In about 20%, we could not make out what the definitive cause because either they had been treated outside, so the organism does not grow, or some of our test may not pick up some viruses which are not included in the panel,” said Dr Pratibha Singhi, head, Advanced Paediatrics Centre.
“Among acute bacterial meningitis, 8% had scrub typhus, 5.5% had streptococcus pneumoniae, and 4% had H influenzae, organisms. Among children with acute encephalitis EBV (Epstein–Barr virus), AV (Adenovirus), and Japanese encephalitis, viruses were found to be the common causes,” according to the study.