#RED4WED – World Encephalitis Day 2021
What is encephalitis? If you don’t know the answer, you’re not alone. Worldwide, 78% of people don’t know what it is.
Put simply, encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. It can be caused by an infection affecting the brain (called ‘infectious’ encephalitis) or by the immune system attacking the brain in error (called ‘post-infectious’ or ‘autoimmune’ encephalitis).
Symptoms differ between these two types of encephalitis. For infection encephalitis, the first symptom tends to be a headache or flu-like symptoms, followed by others including:
- mild confusion or drowsiness
- high temperature
- aversion to bright lights
- inability to speak or control movement
- sensory changes
- neck stiffness
- uncharacteristic behaviour
- loss of consciousness or coma
These symptoms can develop within hours, days, or weeks. With autoimmune encephalitis, symptoms can take longer to develop and can include:
- altered personality or behaviour
- movement disorders
- memory loss
- sleep disturbances
This devastating neurological condition has a high death rate and can leave survivors with lasting damage. It’s not uncommon, either: 500,000 people, both children and adults, are affected by encephalitis every year. That’s one person every minute.
World Encephalitis Day was founded in 2014 by The Encephalitis Society, with the aim of increasing awareness of the condition. It has reached more than 186 million people through media features, events, and social media.
This year, the charity is lighting up over 90 global landmarks around the world as part of its Lights Camera Action campaign and encouraging supporters to go #Red4WED by wearing red on Monday, 22nd February.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with Lucy Dawson, a model who has lived experience of encephalitis and has written about it on her blog, which we’d definitely encourage you to visit.