Encephalitis 169

Symptoms

Symptoms are similar to human granulocytic ehrli-chiosis (ehrlichiosis, human granulocytic), including fever, headache, chills, malaise, sweating, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. The infection may range from a mild illness to a severe, life-threatening disease. It may cause leukopenia (reduction of white blood cells), thrombocytopenia (reduction in blood platelets), anemia, or abnormal liver function.

Treatment

Antibiotics are effective if begun early enough in the disease.

emergency room information When a child is taken to the emergency room for an injury or illness, there is some important information care-givers should always be prepared to provide. This includes a list of the child's allergies (especially to medications), drugs the child is currently taking, preexisting illnesses, height and weight, plus a record of immunizations.

Allergies

It is vital that emergency room doctors know of any drug allergies a child may have, but any allergies—including food or latex—are important to note. Knowing these details may help emergency personnel find a cause for problems such as seizures or breathing difficulties.

Current Medications

Because some medications should not be taken together, it is important to provide emergency doctors with a list of any drugs (and dosages) the child is currently taking. It is also important to know when the last dose was given.

Preexisting Illnesses

Any preexisting health problems, such as diabetes or asthma, could have a big impact on the kinds of tests or treatments a child might be given in an emergency room. This is so important that a child with a serious chronic condition should ideally wear a medical alert tag, bracelet, or necklace. This is especially important if a child suddenly gets sick at day care, school, or a friend's house. It is also important to keep a record of the dates and types of surgeries a child may have undergone.

Immunizations

Keeping an up-to-date record of a child's immunizations can help doctors rule out some kinds of problems in an emergency. Knowing a child has had a hepatitis b injection, or is protected against tetanus, could be very important.

Height, Weight, Blood Type

Knowing a child's accurate height and weight can be important in calculating drug dosages. One thing that is not crucial is knowing a child's blood type. In a true emergency, only the "universal donor" blood type—O negative—will be given in a transfusion.

Emergency Information for Caretakers Caregivers should know not only how to get in touch with parents at all times but also the name and phone number of the child's doctor. This is vital in case of medical emergency, if the parents cannot be reached. Parents who are going to be separated from a child on a vacation or business trip should leave a medical release allowing the child's caregiver to authorize medical care. However, in a life threatening emergency a medical release would not be necessary, because medical personnel are authorized to do what they must to save the life of someone involved in an accident or other emergency.

encephalitis Inflammation of the brain usually caused by a viral infection. Often, the meninges (membranes covering the brain) are affected. An attack may be very mild, but in most cases it is a serious condition.

The most common strains of encephalitis in North America include St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), California encephalitis (CE), western equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, west nile virus encephalitis, and Powassan encephalitis (spread by ticks, not mosquitoes). Japanese encephalitis is not found in the United States, but it is very common throughout Asia and poses a risk to international travelers.

Cause

Most of the time, the virus responsible is the herpes simplex virus type I, which also causes cold sores. In the United States it may also be caused by

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