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Acute encephalitis in children: Progress and priorities from an Australasian perspective

Authors

  • Philip N Britton,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    3. Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (MBI), University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Philip Britton, Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Cnr Hainsworth Street and Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia. Fax: 02 9845 3389; email: philip.britton@health.nsw.gov.au

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  • Russell C Dale,

    1. Department of Neurology, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Robert Booy,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    3. Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (MBI), University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Cheryl A Jones

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    3. Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (MBI), University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: No conflicts of interest.

Abstract

Encephalitis is a complex neurological syndrome caused by inflammation of the brain that occurs with highest incidence in children. It is challenging to diagnose and manage due to the variety of aetiologies and non-specific clinical presentations. We discuss the recent progress in clinical case definitions; review recent, large, prospective epidemiological studies; and describe aetiologies. We emphasise infectious causes relevant to children in Australasia but also consider emerging immune-mediated syndromes responsive to immune therapies. We identify priorities for future research in children, given the potential for climate change and international travel to influence the emergence of infectious agents in our region.

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