Today is World Encephalitis Day – a global awareness day for those that have been affected, either directly or indirectly, by encephalitis.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, with symptoms including a flu-like illness, headaches, drowsiness, uncharacteristic behaviour, seizures, and the inability to speak or control movement. However, it can be a life threatening condition and without urgent treatment, the death rate is high and survivors can be left with life-changing acquired brain injuries. Whilst the condition is rare, the Encephalitis Society estimate that 500,000 children and adults are affected by encephalitis each year, equating to one person every minute.
The early indications of encephalitis are often mild, but become more serious over time. The symptoms depend on the type of encephalitis, for example, symptoms of infectious encephalitis will often include high temperatures, headaches and sickness, whilst symptoms of autoimmune encephalitis may include confusion and hallucination. When the brain becomes affected, the condition can quickly deteriorate, and those affected can develop seizures, loss of feeling and loss of consciousness.
Given the similarity of these symptoms to other conditions, symptoms alone are often insufficient to distinguish between the many diseases that can mimic encephalitis. To avoid any delays in diagnosis, investigations such as a lumbar puncture, a CT or MRI scan and blood tests should be conducted as soon as possible.
Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment will be provided for both the cause of the encephalitis (e.g. antivirals and antibiotics), and for the symptoms and complications arising from the condition (e.g. fluids to prevent de-hydration and medication to control seizures or fits).
The earlier that encephalitis is treated, the more likely it is that a good recovery can be made. However, even with the correct treatment, certain types of encephalitis still have high mortality rates (between 10-30%). To those affected by encephalitis, the realisation that current treatments are sometimes unable to treat the condition is a frightening prospect, and the rapid development of the disease can be traumatic for all involved.
Unfortunately, global awareness of this condition is low, and it is estimated that 78% of the general public do not know what encephalitis is. To mark World Encephalitis Day, the Encephalitis Society are turning over 90 global landmarks red, and encouraging supporters to wear red to help raise awareness of the condition.
The Encephalitis Society is a fantastic international charity based in the UK supporting patients and families following all forms of encephalitis they also provide training, support research and help to raise awareness of the condition. For further information please visit www.encephalitis.info
How Burnetts Can Help
You may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation if encephalitis has not been treated properly. For example, if there has been a delay, misdiagnosis or inappropriate medical care.
Burnetts have specialist brain injury and medical negligence solicitors, who are accredited by the AvMA and Law Society panels, who can investigate your claim and help secure compensation.
Where admissions are made, we work hard to secure interim payments to assist with accommodation, therapy, aids and equipment and care. We work closely with our Court of Protection Department to support vulnerable clients who need assistance with the management of their affairs. Where someone has sadly died, Burnetts also have expertise in dealing with claims on behalf of the estate of the deceased and any Inquest.
If you would like to speak to someone within our team to discuss whether you may have a clinical negligence claim then please contact our offices on 01228 552222.