Meningitis and encephalitis can occur as a result of certain viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.
Herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 are common causes of viral meningitis and encephalitis. While herpes simplex meningitis is a self-limiting condition in patients with normal immunity1, herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is a life-threatening disease and it requires prompt treatment with intravenous antivirals.
Anyone at any age can get HSE. Although HSE is rare, mortality rate can reach 70% in the absence of therapy and only a minority of individuals return to normal function2. Intravenous acyclovir has shown to reduce mortality to 10-20%3. A rapid diagnosis is then critical to successful patient outcome.
1. Logan SAE, MacMahon E. Viral meningitis. BMJ. 2008;336(7634):36-40. doi:10.1136/bmj.39409.673657.AE
2. Tyler KL. Herpes simplex virus infections of the central nervous system: encephalitis and meningitis, including Mollaret’s. Herpes. 2004;11 Suppl 2:57A-64A.
3. Whitley RJ. Herpes Simplex Virus Infections of the Central Nervous System. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2015;21(6 Neuroinfectious Disease):1704-1713. doi:10.1212/CON.0000000000000243
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