Viral Encephalitis

Neurol Clin. 2018 Nov;36(4):705-724. doi: 10.1016/j.ncl.2018.07.001. Epub 2018 Sep 20.


Viruses are a frequent cause of encephalitis. Common or important viruses causing encephalitis include herpesviruses, arboviruses, enteroviruses, parechoviruses, mumps, measles, rabies, Ebola, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, and henipaviruses. Other viruses may cause an encephalopathy. Host factors and clinical features of infection are important to consider in identifying the cause for encephalitis. Cerebrospinal fluid evaluation, serologic/polymerase chain reaction studies, and neuroimaging are cornerstones of diagnostic evaluation in encephalitis. Treatable forms of encephalitis are important to consider in all cases. Central nervous system inflammation may also occur because of postinfectious autoimmunity, such as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis or antibody-mediated encephalitis after herpes simplex virus encephalitis.

Keywords: Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis; Autoimmune encephalitis; Encephalitis; Herpes simplex encephalitis; Infectious encephalitis; NMDAR encephalitis; Viral encephalitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Encephalitis, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Encephalitis, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Encephalitis, Viral / virology*
  • Humans