Your central nervous system (CNS) is your brain and spinal cord. A viral infection Overview of Viral Infections A virus is a tiny living organism. Viruses are so small they can be seen only with the most powerful microscopes. That's why they're called microorganisms (micro means very small). Other common... read more can affect one or both of these organs. Infection can result in:
Meningitis Viral Meningitis Meningitis is an infection of the thin layer of tissue that covers your brain and spinal cord. This layer of tissue is called the meninges. In viral meningitis, the infection is caused by a... read more : infection of the meninges, which are the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord
Viral CNS infections can be very serious.
The first sign is usually a fever, followed by crankiness, not wanting to eat, headache, neck pain, and sometimes seizure Seizures in Children Seizures are changes in the brain's electrical signals. The brain is made up of nerve cells Nerve cells talk to each other through electrical signals Seizures happen if too many nerve cells... read more
Most children recover, but a few go into a coma and die
A few children have permanent complications such as deafness, mental difficulties, seizures, or weakness of an arm or leg
Doctors do a spinal tap to see if your child has meningitis or encephalitis
There's usually no specific treatment for a viral infection of the brain or spinal cord
Symptoms vary by age.
Babies usually have:
In some babies, the first sign is a seizure.
Children may have:
With encephalitis caused by herpes simplex virus infection Herpes Simplex Virus Infections There are 8 different types of herpesvirus. Even though herpes simplex is only one of those types, most people just call it "herpes." Herpes simplex is a viral infection that causes a rash of... read more , infants and children may have a rash of red spots and fluid-filled blisters on the skin or in the eyes or mouth.
To know if your child has meningitis or encephalitis, doctors do:
In a spinal tap, the doctor puts a needle into the lower back to draw fluid from around the spinal cord. Sometimes doctors also do: