World Encephalitis day is celebrated on February 22nd as a global awareness day. Individuals and families affected by encephalitis, and organisations, come together to spread the word about this condition.
World Encephalitis Day is led by the Encephalitis Society and will celebrate and honour the millions of people affected by encephalitis across the world.
According to research, nearly 80% of the global population is not aware of what encephalitis is. As a result, organisations strive to change such statistics by providing information and advice on encephalitis, its consequences and any available support.
At Careers with Disabilities, we are dedicated to ensuring accessible opportunities for people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. As a result, we have put together some information and advice about encephalitis.
What is Encephalitis?
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, often caused by an infection from a virus. In particular, immune system deficiencies or fungal infections can cause encephalitis. It can affect either one or multiple areas of the brain, and its symptoms range from mild to severe. Encephalitis is a rare condition, which affects about 4,000 people in the United Kingdom every year. Only some viruses can affect the nerves and access the brain and spinal cord.
What are the Symptoms of Encephalitis?
The most common initial symptoms of encephalitis can be:
- High body temperature
- Neck stiffness
- Drowsiness and confusion
- Problems with memory
- Speech difficulties
- Personality change
Other symptoms can be sensitivity to bright light, lack of coordination, and people might lose consciousness in more severe cases.
Working After Recovery
People with encephalitis need careful medical attention, and people with severe symptoms might need intensive care treatment. The inflammation of the brain can last two or three months. Most people find that they make their recovery from symptoms within this time.
It is essential to understand the after-effects of encephalitis and how they can affect work. It is common to experience tiredness after encephalitis. Therefore, it is vital to ensure plenty of resting intervals between short periods of physical and mental activity. As the recovery occurs, activities can become longer and breaks shorter. Some people might benefit from physiotherapy to help with physical problems, such as movement or speech.
Whatever the case, it is a great idea to speak to your employer about your circumstances. Your employer should accommodate any medical appointment or specific need you might have.
How Does the Equality Act 2010 Apply to Acquired Brain Injury?
Some people might experience acquired brain injury (ABI) as a result of the infection and inflammation. There are many ways encephalitis affects people, and each person’s case is different. According to the severity of the inflammation, the loss of brain function can vary from mild to more significant impairments. There might be cognitive, physical, emotional or behavioural difficulties.
The Equality Act 2010 classes people who experienced ABI and have long-term disabilities as impaired. Therefore, people with ABI are protected by the law. Even though the impairment must last 12 months or more to be classed as a disability, employers are still expected to make reasonable adjustments to support employees with ABI.
About one million people in the United Kingdom are currently living with the long-term effects of a brain injury. For many of these people, returning to work and resuming their career is essential.
You can read our page about brain injury to learn more.