Liza Minnelli recovering from viral encephalitis

— Liza Minnelli is recovering in a hospital after being admitted in "very serious condition" earlier this month with viral encephalitis, a potentially deadly brain inflammation.

The Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Fort Lauderdale issued a statement Monday saying the 54-year-old singer and actress "is now recovering well and we expect to release her in a few days."

Encephalitis is rare in the United States, with about 1,500 cases reported annually. Symptoms include muscle weakness, seizures and unconsciousness. Paramedics who rushed Minnelli to the hospital Oct. 8 initially thought she had suffered a stroke.

After initial treatment over an unspecified period of days, the hospital said, Minnelli went home but was readmitted when she became dehydrated.

The hospital said Minnelli asked that the public be thanked for its "care and concern."

Minnelli has fought back from health troubles in the past. She spent seven weeks in treatment for tranquilizer and alcohol dependence in 1984 at the Betty Ford Center. In May, hip problems forced her to cancel some tour dates for a one-woman show honoring her father, Academy Award-winning film director Vincente Minnelli.

Publicist Michael Hartman said Monday he spoke with Minnelli. "She is very happy. The doctors have reported that she's making tremendous progress. Encephalitis is a serious condition but she is by no means on her death bed. She is in great spirits," he said.

Minnelli's mother was Hollywood legend Judy Garland.

At 19, Minnelli won her first of three Tony Awards for her first Broadway production "Flora, The Red Menace." At 26, she won the best actress Oscar for her dynamic, groundbreaking performance as Sally Bowles in 1972's "Cabaret."

"Arthur" (1981), with Dudley Moore, and Martin Scorsese's "New York, New York," (1977) co-starring Robert DeNiro, are among her other successful films.

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