The urgent need for
awareness about encephalitis is reflected by the startling statistics obtained
from a survey carried out in UK, USA, Germany, India, and Australia which
reveals that eighty percent individuals do not know what encephalitis
is! Here are some aspects on
encephalitis that could help you to understand the condition better:
‘The World Encephalitis Day is celebrated on the 22nd of February every year to increase awareness about the condition and raise funds to support affected individuals and research on encephalitis.’
The Encephalitis Society, along with increasing
awareness, hopes to create enough resources through donations to support
people affected by encephalitis and contribute to research in the field
- Encephalitis means inflammation of the brain. It could be a consequence of an infection by a virus
or a bacterium, though fungi and parasites have also been implicated. It
could also occur after complete resolution of the infection or due to an
- Since the brain controls the body, encephalitis can
have serious implications throughout the body.
Symptoms include reduced consciousness that can extend into coma, headache behavioral problems, memory loss,
sleep disturbances, seizures, hallucinations, and motor and sensory
disturbances along with generalized symptoms like fever. The condition is
more serious than meningitis, since it affects the substance of the brain,
while meningitis affects the coverings of the brain called the meninges.
- Encephalitis should be managed on an emergency basis. The diagnosis is based on neurological tests which
include CT scan, MRI, a spinal tap and an EEG (a test that evaluates the
electrical activity in the brain). Treatment includes antiviral drugs,
antibiotics, and immune modulating drugs like steroids or intravenous
immunoglobulins depending on the cause, symptomatic treatment and the
treatment of complications like seizures.
- The real challenge appears after the patient recovers
from the initial inflammation. The
memory loss results in a blank period in the patient's life. The
medications can cause long-term side effects, which may also add to the
problems. Some patients have residual physical disabilities, while others
may appear perfectly normal, but find it difficult to integrate in their
previous surroundings and workplace, often resulting in frustration. They
may need prolonged support depending on the extent of their recovery.
- Children are usually the long-term suffers of
encephalitis, since their brain is affected in the developmental stage. It may be difficult for them to return to normal
school life, given the residual scars of the disease. Some children may
require a less stimulating environment which may be difficult to find in
the school. Memory problems could worsen the grades, which could
demotivate the child. Problems with attention, communication, hearing problems reading and
interpretation could interfere with the learning. The extent to which an
individual child is physically and mentally affected varies. An integrated approach by the parents,
teachers, school, the child's friends, the school psychologists as well as
the treating doctor through proper planning and regular review could help
the child to achieve the best possible. Teachers should be guided on
how to manage the child in school.
- The impact of the disease on the family is immense.
Treatment in an intensive care unit is not only emotionally taxing for the
family, the costs in a private set up are often prohibitive. The long-term
sequelae of the disease may prevent the individual from continuing the
original lifestyle. S/he may have to undergo occupational therapy and
change to a less demanding occupation.
. Several infections that cause encephalitis can be
prevented by adopting certain lifestyle measures or through vaccination.
Bites from mosquitoes and ticks that spread the infection that should be
avoided. Increasing the awareness about the preventive measures could
reduce the number of cases affected by encephalitis.
The color for the
World Encephalitis Day is Red. The Encephalitis Society suggests that you
could contribute by wearing red on the day, spreading awareness on social
media, or by making a monetary donation to the society.Reference:
- World Encephalitis Day 2018 - (https://www.encephalitis.info/pages/category/wed2018)