Improving care for brain infection patients


Professor Solomon: “The aim is to raise awareness”

New health guidelines, produced by scientists at the University, aim to improve the care of patients with encephalitis, a condition that causes inflammation and swelling of the brain.

Encephalitis affects approximately 10 people in every 100,000 in the UK and can lead to lasting brain damage, or in severe cases, death, if not identified early.

Guidelines, published in the Journal of Infection and featured in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), highlight the need for early diagnosis using a lumbar puncture procedure, where fluid is drawn from the spine, most commonly used in tests for meningitis.  Early use of the procedure can help medics identify infection in the brain before it becomes too advanced to treat effectively.

Importance of rehabilitation

The guidelines, produced by a team led by Professor Tom Solomon at the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, also recommend prompt treatment of the disease with aciclovir, an anti-viral drug used for patients with the cold sore virus, herpes.  The report also stressed the importance of appropriate rehabilitation services following treatment, such as patients being admitted for aftercare at neurological health facilities.

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Professor Solomon said: “Initial clinical symptoms of encephalitis can be subtle and therefore identifying the disease early can be difficult.  The aim of the new guidelines is raise awareness of the disease so that hospital doctors know what to look for when a patient comes in with a suspected viral infection.  It’s also vitally important that patient’s receive the appropriate aftercare, as some of those who survive the infection suffer with conditions such as paralysis and memory loss.”

Click here to read the full report on the guidelines at the BMJ website.

The guidelines for adult health care, published in collaboration with Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, can be accessed from the journal website here

The report on encephalitis in children, in partnership with Dr Rachel Kneen from Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, can be accessed here

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