Dr Lance Turtle, from the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, is photographed here in Bellary, India, analysing samples from patients with Japanese encephalitis, whilst some of their relatives wait outside the ward at Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences.
Dr Turtle is part of the Brain Infections Group at the University, but is currently based in Bangalore working with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). Research here and at Liverpool has supported the vaccination of more than 50 million people against a zoonotic brain infection that affects thousands of children across Asia every year.
Dr Turtle said: “Japanese encephalitis virus is found in pigs and wading birds and transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The virus attacks the brain causing inflammation and swelling, which can result in seizures, coma and change in personality. Mainly children are affected, and of those who survive the infection, many suffer permanent brain damage.
“Working here with partners in India, the Brain Infections Group has developed blood tests to improve diagnosis of the disease, as well as methods to measure the outcome of the infection, to assess the health impacts of this serious illness on communities across Asia. Now we are moving forward to try to uncover other causes of encephalitis as well as to understand the precise cellular mechanisms of the body’s response to the disease in much greater detail.”