Today is World Encephalitis Day. Run by the Encephalitis Society it aims to bring awareness about the condition.
Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, which can be caused by any virus which manages to make its way to the brain (known as Infectious Encephalitis), or by the immune system if it mistakenly targets the brain (known as Autoimmune Encephalitis). The condition is very serious and requires immediate medical care.
The symptoms of Encephalitis can vary depending on the type contracted. For example, someone suffering from Infectious Encephalitis may find at the beginning that they have a headache, which is followed by more serious symptoms such as confusion to loss of consciousness in the hours, days or even weeks after. Someone suffering from Autoimmune Encephalitis will typically have more subtle symptoms such as altered personality, memory loss or hallucinations.
It is imperative that Encephalitis is treated immediately. As the symptoms cross-over with other conditions and illnesses, a doctor will have to perform a spinal tap, or undertake CT or MRI scans as soon as possible in order to specify the condition. Once the condition is diagnosed, treatment may begin. The initial focus is on stopping the infection affecting the brain; this could involve the patient taking antiviral medications or antibiotics if suffering from Infectious Encephalitis, or by taking immunomodulatory drugs for Autoimmune Encephalitis. In certain cases, a patient may be put into an induced coma in order to reduce the stress on their brain and give it time to recover. If left untreated, Encephalitis can cause serious complications like memory problems, personality changes and behavioural changes, as well as neurological complications including balance and co-ordination problems but in some cases it is fatal. The chances of successful treatment are much better if encephalitis is diagnosed and treated quickly.
Encephalitis currently affects roughly 6,000 people every year in the UK alone, and over 250,000 people have been diagnosed with the condition in the last decade in the USA. The aim of the Encephalitis Society on World Encephalitis Day is to reach their goal of “a world which is aware of encephalitis, its consequences and the support available”. Alongside this, their aim by 2027 is to raise at least £5 million annually to fund international research studies into Encephalitis.
At Hugh James, we have helped many clients who have suffered significant and unreasonable delays in accessing suitable treatment. In many cases, delays have caused devastating and long term effects. Hugh James is ranked in the top tier for our expert clinical negligence advice by both major legal guides Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.