(We have also put together a live blog on Covid-19 which can be seen here)

A statement on Covid-19 from the Encephalitis Society (updated Tuesday, March 10).

There are early reports emerging of a possible association between COVID-19 and central nervous system damage. We are aware of reports of a 56-year-old male in China who developed COVID-19 and went on to have the virus found in his cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The patient recovered and was discharged from hospital. (1)

We understand this may be a cause for concern among encephalitis survivors and their families. There are very few reports of central nervous system involvement in COVID-19 and, if confirmed, this appears to be a very rare complication of infection. We don’t know how this infection will develop but it appears that the likelihood of getting encephalitis from COVID-19 is very small. If possible try not to worry and feel stressed.

Some people who have had encephalitis may have immune systems that are compromised and/or they may also be taking medication that suppresses their immune system. It is a good idea to be vigilant making sure you avoid people who are unwell and in following the guidance below. It is for this reason, that we took a decision to postpone one of our member events planned for April.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.  The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

If you think you may have COVID-19 you must follow the latest guidelines for the country in which you live.  You can also take positive action by doing the following:


  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

The Encephalitis Society will continue to monitor developments closely through the information provided by the World Health OrganizationPublic Health England, the CDC, and the other international bodies.

Dr Benedict Michael, Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel - Encephalitis Society

Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society.

(1) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-03/05/c_138846529.htm