Life-threatening brain condition being missed by majority of emergency department health professionals


A recent survey revealed that many are at risk due to misdiagnosis of encephalitis, a deadly brain inflammation. Over half of the surveyed Indian emergency medical professionals missed encephalitis as a potential diagnosis even when presented with common symptoms. Many of those surveyed underestimate the severity of encephalitis, with 62% not ranking death as a possible patient outcome following delayed recognition and treatment of encephalitis.

This lack of awareness leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment, and poorer patient outcome with death rate reaching up to 40% while survivors often experience debilitating long-term disabilities. While less than half (45%) of emergency medical professionals felt confident in recognizing encephalitis, 83% somewhat or strongly agreed they’d benefit from more training. This critical gap in medical knowledge puts many at risk. On 22nd February, World Encephalitis Day, Encephalitis International renews its commitment to raising awareness and recognition of the symptoms of encephalitis among both the public and the healthcare professionals.

Encephalitis International is committed to working towards providing health and medical professionals with globally accessible training and will continue to collaborate with international stakeholders,such asthe World Health Organisation (WHO), to make Encephalitis a global priority. Encephalitis affects one person every minute globally and has a higher incidence rate than Motor Neuron Disease (MND) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) combined. Yet, 80% of the people are unaware of it. ..2.. 2 Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of Encephalitis International said, “In the wake of these alarming survey findings, itis clear that much more must be done to bridge the gap in encephalitis awareness and expertise.” “Encephalitis International is determined to increase this awareness among medical professionals through the development of globally accessible training programmes which will provide the tools for them to better recognize and treat Encephalitis.” “Of course, we cannot do this alone and will continue to work alongside international entities, such as the World Health Organisation, to elevate encephalitis as a global health priority.” Encephalitis is a deadly brain inflammation that can affect anyone regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.

Symptoms of encephalitis vary but can include: • Infectious encephalitis (decreased or altered level of consciousness, personality/ behavioural change, fever and a headache); • Autoimmune encephalitis (memory problems, psychiatric symptoms, decreased or altered level of consciousness and personality change). Death rates following encephalitis can be high. Survivors can be left with an acquired brain injury resulting in a wide range of difficulties such as problems with memory and other cognitive skills, changes in personality, emotional and behavioural difficulties, epilepsy, fatigue and other physical difficulties which can make return to school, work, family and social life very challenging