Published on 21/02/2024
Aston University Library lit up in red
  • World Encephalitis Day happens every year on 22 February and landmarks, such as Aston University Library, will light up red to mark it
  • Encephalitis is a potentially fatal swelling of the brain caused by infection or a rogue immune response
  • Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment carries out research into encephalitis

Aston University Library will light up red on 22 February 2024 to mark World Encephalitis Day.

World Encephalitis Day is a global awareness day organised by the charity Encephalitis International (formerly the Encephalitis Society) to raise awareness of the potentially fatal condition. The charity encourages landmarks to light up in red, the official campaign colour, on the day, and supporters to dress in red and post pictures on social media with the hashtag #RED4WED.

Encephalitis is a swelling of the brain, caused most often by a viral infection, such as herpes viruses, enteroviruses, West Nile virus and tick-borne viruses, or by the immune system attacking the brain in error, known as post-infectious or autoimmune encephalitis. The sooner encephalitis is picked up, the better the likely outcome for the patient. Survivors are often left with an acquired brain injury, and long-term effects of the illness include tiredness, headaches, problems with memory, hearing, balance and speech, mood swings and epilepsy. Anyone can be affected by encephalitis, regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.

Researchers at Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN) carry out research into encephalitis. Dr Sukhvir Wright is a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellow at IHN and an honorary consultant neurologist at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She researches predictors of cognitive recovery in paediatric immune-mediated encephalitis, which is funded by Encephalitis International. She was a guest speaker on the subject at the Encephalitis 2023 conference. She also reviewed a vital factsheet on subacute sclerosing pan-encephalitis (SSPE), a rare, progressive form of encephalitis resulting from measles infection, which currently has no cure. This is particularly pertinent with the current rise in measles infections in the UK.

Dr Charly Billaud was the recipient of the 2019 Encephalitis Society Silver Jubilee PhD Fellowship, and recently completed his PhD at IHN on long-term cognitive and behavioural outcomes following childhood autoimmune encephalitis.

Dr Wright said:

“We fully support World Encephalitis Day 2024, the global awareness day for people who have been directly or indirectly affected by encephalitis. Our research and clinical teams at the Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital are proud to have worked in partnership with Encephalitis International to increase awareness and knowledge of the disease in children, provide support to families and patients and undertake research into improving the outcomes of those affected. This devastating brain condition affects one person every minute, by going #RED4WED we hope to spread awareness as we know that early recognition and treatment of encephalitis saves lives.”

For more information about IHN, visit the website.

Notes to editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming the Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Helen Tunnicliffe, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7827 090240 or email: h.tunnicliffe@aston.ac.uk.

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