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Encephalitis in children
  1. Clara Thompson1,
  2. Rachel Kneen2,
  3. Andrew Riordan3,
  4. Dominic Kelly1,
  5. Andrew J Pollard1
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Children's Hospital, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Littlewoods' Neuroscience Centre, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Clara Thompson, C/o Professor AJ Pollard, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Level 2 Children's Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK; clara.thompson{at}


Encephalitis is an uncommon but potentially devastating neurological syndrome with different aetiologies including direct central nervous system infection with different agents (most commonly viral) and those mediated by the immune system. Whilst there have been several recent publications and guidelines on the management of bacterial central nervous system infections in adults and children, viral infections have been relatively neglected. Guidelines have been published for adults with encephalitis ( but none exist for children. For these reasons, we have reviewed the literature on encephalitis and have formulated a suggested management strategy for children with suspected, clinically diagnosed and proven encephalitis. We have excluded neonates, as encephalitis in this age group has different clinical features and is beyond the scope of this review.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.