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ENCEPHALITIS CAUSED BY VACCINE

If you have ever had an adverse reaction to a vaccine, you likely feel confused and scared. You might be wondering, “How could this happen? Vaccines are supposed to keep me safe, not hurt me”. Unfortunately, vaccines do cause injury in rare cases. Encephalitis is something many people may suffer from after a vaccination. If you’ve been diagnosed with encephalitis after receiving a vaccine, you could be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). 

WHAT IS ENCEPHALITIS?

Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain. It is a serious condition that can be caused by many viral diseases. The condition often manifests as mild flu-like symptoms and can progress from there. People with encephalitis may experience fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, seizures, blurred vision, hearing loss, and difficultly speaking. 

Autoimmune inflammation, which sometimes occurs as a reaction to a vaccine, can also trigger encephalitis. If you have been diagnosed with encephalitis after receiving a vaccine, it is important to speak with an experienced vaccine attorney right away. You may be entitled to compensation.  

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CAN VACCINES CAUSE ENCEPHALITIS?

Encephalitis is a serious condition that can be caused by many things, including vaccines. Viral diseases such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) and enteroviruses cause someone to develop encephalitis. Common childhood infections such as measles have also been linked to it. There are many other viruses that can cause someone to develop encephalitis, including those spread by mosquitoes and ticks.

THE FOLLOWING VACCINES HAVE BEEN LINKED TO ENCEPHALITIS

  • Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR)

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis (whooping cough) (DTP/DTap)

  • Influenza

  • Varicella or Chickenpox

SYMPTOMS OF ENCEPHALITIS 

Encephalitis, in its early stages, can have flu-like symptoms. This includes…

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Aches in muscles and/or joints

  • Fatigue

More severe symptoms include…

  • Confusion

  • Hallucinations

  • Seizures

  • Being unable to control certain areas of the face or body

  • Problems with speech or hearing

  • Loss of consciousness

Young children and the elderly are most likely to be impacted by encephalitis. Young children may experience the previously mentioned symptoms as well as bulging in the soft spots (fontanels) of an infant's skull, nausea, vomiting, body stiffness, and poor feeding.  

If you or a loved one experience any of these severe symptoms it is important that you seek medical attention immediately. 

HOW IS ENCEPHALITIS DIAGNOSED?

Children and older adults with vaccine-related encephalitis will typically experience signs and symptoms within two weeks after the date of vaccination. In most cases, these symptoms clear up on their own within a few days. Parents should monitor their children closely after vaccination and report any symptoms to a medical provider.

There are many ways a doctor can confirm that your child has encephalitis. Many choose to conduct an MRI of the brain. The MRI will look for any signs of swelling or abnormalities. The doctor may also choose to conduct and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). The spinal tap is done to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, the protective fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Lab tests can also confirm the diagnosis. This can include blood samples, urine samples, and/or a throat swab. Finally, electroencephalogram (EEG) tests can also be performed to show abnormal patterns of electrical brain activity.

TREATMENT FOR ENCEPHALITIS 

The earlier encephalitis is diagnosed the better. There are various types of effective treatments that are used depending on the severity of the condition. 

  • Antiviral Drugs: Medications like Acyclovir, Ganciclovir, and Foscarnet are most commonly used to treat encephalitis that has been caused by another virus. 

  • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Similar to antiviral drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs fight off underlying infections that may have caused encephalitis. 

  • Immunotherapy: Steroids, intravenous antibodies (IVIg), and plasma exchange are used to treat encephalitis when the cause is believed to be autoimmune. 

  • Supportive Care: In more severe cases that require a hospital stay people may need intravenous fluids, anti-inflammatory drugs, breathing or feeding assistance, and other means of health support. 

  • Follow-up Therapy: Some cases require therapy such as physical or speech therapy to help overcome more severe symptoms. 

PROGNOSIS AND RECOVERY TIME FOR ENCEPHALITIS

The long-term prognosis for people diagnosed with encephalitis can vary based on several factors. In some cases, people recovery from the illness in a few months with little to no consequences. In others, people have life-long difficulties.

Recovery from encephalitis can take time. Initial recovery can happen very quick, but usually falls short of complete. Complete recovery takes time over a period of months or even years. Doctors may recommend a period of structured recovery, where short periods of activity are followed by lots of rest. As time goes by, the activity periods can be longer, and the rest periods can be shorter.

HOW DO I RECEIVE COMPENSATION THROUGH THE NVICP FOR VACCINE-RELATED ENCEPHALITIS?

Encephalitis is considered an adverse reaction that can be compensated under the National Vaccine Compensation Program (NVICP). It is listed on the Vaccine Injury Table under covered vaccines, including many childhood vaccines.

The NVICP is a federal program that was created to compensate people who have been injured by certain vaccines. If you or a loved one have been injured by a vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. 

In order to take advantage of the VICP, you must file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. There are specific rules that must be followed when submitting a claim. An experienced vaccine attorney can help you navigate the process and help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO FILE A CLAIM WITH THE VICP?

One of the great benefits about the VICP is that it covers attorneys’ fees and expenses! You can file a claim with the VICP at no cost to you.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A VICP CLAIM AFTER RECEIVING A VACCINE?

Just like many other areas of law, vaccine injury claims have a statute of limitations.

For cases where the petitioner did not die, the statue of limitations is 3 years from the first onset of symptoms. At DuPont & Blumenstiel, we like to play it safe and base our cases on the date of vaccination. For cases where the petitioner did die, the statute of limitations is 24 months from the date of death but not more than 4 years from the date of vaccination.

It's important to keep these dates in mind so you don't miss them! If you believe you've suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccine, the time to act is now.

HOW MUCH COMPENSATION CAN I RECEIVE THROUGH THE NVICP? 

The amount of compensation you can receive is dependent on your situation, the severity of your symptoms, and how long they lasted. With some exceptions, there typically is no set compensation amount for specific vaccine injuries. However, depending on the severity of your vaccine-related injuries and damages, the compensation you receive can be substantial.  

Receiving compensation through the NVICP is complex, which is why it’s important to consult with a vaccine injury lawyer. An experienced vaccine attorney will be able to help you better understand your options. 

Encephalitis is an adverse reaction that can have serious effects on your day-to-day life. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through the VICP. Don't wait. There are deadlines to file a claim. The experienced vaccine injury attorneys at the Law Offices of DuPont and Blumenstiel can help. Call us today at 614-389-9711 for a case evaluation.

Want to learn more about the NVICP? Download our Consumer's Guide to Vaccine-Related Injuries here.