Encephalitis or Encephalopathy Triggered by a Vaccine

Reviewed By Diana Stadelnikas, Vaccine Injury Attorney

What is Encephalitis or Encephalopathy?

Encephalitis (en-sef-uh-LIE-tis), also known as encephalopathy, is a swelling of the brain. 

Encephalopathy is most commonly triggered after a person contracts certain viruses or bacteria. If the virus or bacteria ends up traveling to the spinal cord or brain, it causes inflammation. This inflammation produces the symptoms of encephalitis.

There are a number of other less common triggers to encephalopathy, including vaccine injury.

What Vaccines have been Linked to Encephalitis?

For the most part, vaccines are safe procedures that prevent communities from suffering outbreaks of deadly diseases like tuberculosis, measles, and influenza.  However, in rare cases, patients suffer injuries like secondary encephalitis as a side-effect of a vaccine.

There have been more than 1,100 cases of encephalitis (including brain stem encephalitis) reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)

Mctlaw represented a client in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) who suffered from encephalitis after the MMR vaccine. The court awarded the client a vaccine injury settlement of $101

According to reports published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the following vaccines have been linked to encephalitis.

Some of these vaccines have also been associated with conditions similar to secondary encephalitis, such as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) and measles inclusion body encephalitis.  ADEM is a brief but intense inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

IMPORTANT: The information below does NOT apply to injuries from COVID-19 vaccinations.

FAQ About the Vaccine Injury Compensation Process

Do I Need an Attorney?

Yes. We advise that you DO NOT attempt to represent yourself in the National Vaccine Compensation ProgramHiring a vaccine attorney comes at no cost to you because the Court pays for all legal fees.

How Much Will this Cost Me? Nothing. Here’s Why:

There is NO cost to file a claim.  mctlaw does not charge its clients to represent them in cases brought under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. We do not take a percentage or contingency fee from your financial award. We are paid separately by the Court of Federal Claims at the conclusion of the case.

As a service to our clients, our Firm also covers the costs of litigating the case, such as filing fees, expert witness fees, travel expenses, etc. 

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer in My State?

No. The Vaccine Court is located in Washington, DC, and covers all vaccine injury claims in the United States. This is not a “local” case that a local personal injury lawyer should handle.

Our attorneys are ready to represent you no matter where you live in the United States and its territories.  Our attorneys come to you at or near your home so there is no need for you to travel to our offices in Washington, DC, Sarasota, FL, or Seattle, WA.

What Information Do We Need to Start Building a Case?

First, we need a copy of your vaccine record.  This tells us exactly what vaccines you got and when you got them.

Next, we’ll ask for copies of all relevant medical records and a list of every doctor or hospital where you’ve received treatment for your vaccine injury. 

We use this information to gather the remaining medical records on file at each location. 

We then turn over a copy of your complete and comprehensive medical records to the Court.

How Long Does the Entire Process Take?

This process is designed to be quicker than civil litigation. With some exceptions, it usually is.

A hearing on whether the vaccine caused the injury often occurs within a year. Cases that settle can conclude in as little as a year or two. Other cases, despite our best efforts, can take several years.

How Much is Usually Awarded in these Cases?

Compensation includes monetary damages for pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Compensation for pain and suffering is limited to a maximum of $250,000. There is no limit of compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.

Encephalopathy After a Vaccination?

There is a strict deadline to file a claim, so don’t wait to find out if you qualify for Vaccine Injury Compensation.

Primary vs. Secondary Encephalitis

There are two types of encephalitis: primary and secondary. Primary encephalitis occurs when a virus attacks the brain and spinal cord directly. In the secondary form, an infection starts in some part of the body and then travels to your brain. Reports say secondary encephalitis can be a side-effect of certain vaccines.

Who is at Risk of Contracting Encephalitis?

Anybody can develop primary or secondary encephalitis. However, certain factors have been shown to increase the risk.  For example: age, having a compromised immune system, the time of year, and location all increase risk.  Additionally, anyone who suffered a viral infection can be at an increased risk of contracting encephalitis.

What are the Symptoms of Encephalopathy in Adults and Children?

Symptoms of encephalitis depend on the area of the brain affected, the cause, the age of the patient, and the overall severity of the case.  Some people experience no symptoms and others only experience flu-like symptoms. However, those with the most severe cases experience seizures and personality changes. Encephalitis is a serious disease that can be fatal if not treated, so you should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that you have it.

Some of the most common victims of encephalitis are children and infants under the age of one. Sometimes, young children suffering from encephalopathy develop unique symptoms in addition to the ones listed above.  Children’s encephalitis symptoms include swelling in the soft spots of a baby’s head, irritability, loss of appetite, stiffness in body, vomiting, and nausea.

Most Common, Flu-like Symptoms of Encephalitis:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Achy Muscles and Joints
  • Headache
  • Weakness

More Severe Symptoms of Encephalitis:

  • Seizures
  • Loss of feeling in parts of the face
  • Loss of feeling in part of the body
  • Inability to move certain muscles in the face or body
  • Weakness
  • Trouble speaking and/or hearing
  • Confusion or memory problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness or cognitive ability
  • Severe headaches

Treatments for Encephalitis

Encephalitis is treatable and curable. The first step to treating encephalitis is receiving a diagnosis. An early diagnosis is key to ensuring a good outcome. Typically, diagnosis starts with a physical examination by your doctor and a discussion of your medical history, including vaccine history. Diagnosing encephalitis may require any or all of the following procedures:

  • MRI or CT scan
  • Spinal tap
  • Blood or urine exams
  • Brain biopsies

After the initial diagnosis, treatment for uncomplicated cases of encephalitis usually includes bed rest, fluids, and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Tylenol.

Additional medications may be prescribed to treat any underlying infection, depending on the cause of encephalitis.

For more severe cases of encephalitis, patients may require hospitalization, breathing assistance, intravenous fluids, corticosteroids, and follow-up therapies (such as physical therapy and speech therapy).

Having Trouble Deciding Who Will Represent You in Your Vaccine Case?

We make it easy with our simple guide to choosing the right lawyer for your vaccine case.

Content Reviewed by Diana Stadelnikas – Vaccine Injury Lawyer

Headshot of MCTLaw attorney Diana Stadelnikas

Diana L. Stadelnikas is a lawyer who represents vaccine injury clients and families across the United States. She is admitted to the Florida Bar and is a member of the bar of the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. Ms. Stadelnikas has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Diana was part of a pioneering team of pediatric surgical nurses at West Virginia University Medical Center.

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