Background: Previous reports of infectious encephalitis in Thailand showed viruses as major pathogens similar to worldwide data. Major viruses in studies varied among Japanese encephalitis, Enteroviruses and Herpesviruses. Infectious etiologies vary by regions, seasons and preventive strategies done. Dynamic change of pathogen is believed to occur continually. Local data in each region is important to develop an algorithm of investigations for the cost-effectiveness.
Methods: This is a prospective study of patients with encephalitis between January 2014 to March 2017 at a tertiary hospital in Bangkok. Microbiological and serological studies were done according to an algorithm based on initial cerebrospinal fluid analysis. Initial tests were for bacteria, fungus, mycobacterium and commonly prevalent viruses. Further tests for infectious etiology were done by stepwise approach if initial tests yielded negative.
Results: Fifty-two patients were enrolled. Twenty-seven (51.9%) patients had no etiology identified. Three patients (5.8%) had bacterial etiology, 10 (19.2%) had viral etiology, and 12 (23%) had immune-mediated encephalitis. Among viral etiologies, VZV was identified in 4 cases, HSV in 3 cases, CMV in 2 cases and measles in 1 case. Baseline characteristic of HIV infection or skin rash was associated with viral infection (p 0.031, p 0.006). Patients with VZV encephalitis might not have active skin lesion. Presence of prodrome, duration of prodrome, neurological onset to peak and physical examination of focal neurodeficit, meningeal irritation signs, and reflex were similar across all etiologies. White blood cell [mean 7.0 (range 0-30) cells/µL] and protein [mean 32.5 (range11-70.4) mg/dL] from the cerebrospinal fluid of noninfectious etiologies tended to be lower than the levels of infectious causes (p 0.009, p 0.020). All patients survived at 7 days after admission.
Conclusion: A quarter of patients presenting with acute encephalitis in this study had autoimmune and paraneoplastic encephalitis. Infections caused by herpesviruses was the most prevalent viral etiology. Autoimmune and paraneoplastic encephalitis should be kept in the differential diagnosis in patients with acute encephalitis.
S. Petcharat, None
T. Hemachudha, None
A. Saraya Wasontiwong, None
O. Putcharoen, USAID: Grant Investigator , Research grant