Background: A prospective study of infectious encephalitis was conducted in France in 2007. In total, 253 patients were enrolled with a proven etiological diagnosis for 52%. The cohort of surviving patients with encephalitis was assessed for sequelae and impairment 3 years after enrollment.
Methods: Patients, their family, and general practitioners (GPs) were interviewed by phone to document persisting symptoms, return to work, and past and current leisure activities, with standardized questionnaires. The IQCODE (Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly) was completed with relatives. The global outcome was determined in all patients with the Glasgow outcome scale.
Results: In 2010, 20 patients (10%) were unavailable for follow-up, 2 (1%) were excluded, and 18 (9%) had died since hospital discharge. Data were available for 167 survivors and 9 patients whose death was related to the encephalitis. The outcome was favorable in 108 of 176 patients (61%) (71 with complete resolution), 31 (18%) were mildly impaired, 25 (14%) were severely impaired, and 3 (1%) were in a vegetative state. The most frequent symptoms were difficulty concentrating (42%), behavioral disorders (27%), speech disorders (20%), and memory loss (19%). Fifteen of 63 patients (24%) previously employed were still unable to resume work. Long-term outcome was significantly associated with comorbid conditions, age, level of education, and the causative agent of encephalitis.
Conclusions: Most patients with encephalitis experienced a favorable outcome 3 years after hospital discharge. However, minor to severe disability persists in a high number of cases with consequences for everyday life. Physical and mental impairment should be evaluated in all patients with encephalitis, and neuropsychological rehabilitation implemented whenever needed.