Bacterial encephalitis is an infection of the brain caused by bacteria, typically Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, or Neisseria meningitidis. It is usually spread through contact with the saliva or mucus of an infected person, or through contact with infected objects or surfaces.
Diagnosis of bacterial encephalitis is based on the patient’s medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is usually performed to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for testing. CSF may reveal an increased number of white blood cells and protein, and a decreased level of glucose.
Differential diagnosis of bacterial encephalitis includes other conditions that can cause inflammation of the brain, such as viral encephalitis, encephalopathy due to toxins or drugs, and meningitis.
Treatment of bacterial encephalitis involves antibiotics to fight the infection, and supportive care to manage symptoms. Intravenous antibiotics are typically used for severe cases, while oral antibiotics are used for milder cases. In addition, medications may be used to reduce swelling of the brain, control seizures, and relieve pain.
The prognosis for bacterial encephalitis depends on the type and severity of the infection, and the patient’s age and overall health. Most cases of bacterial encephalitis are treatable, but some can result in permanent brain damage or death.