Part of the Society’s work centres around raising awareness of preventable forms of encephalitis.

These are often types of encephalitis that are transmitted by mosquitoes or ticks. For example, Tick-borne encephalitis and Japanese encephalitis.

These types of encephalitis can be prevented by ensuring you are not bitten by the vectors that carry them and by having a vaccine against them before travelling to parts of the world where they are endemic.

During 2016, we formed a collaboration with Valneva, a specialist travel vaccine company with an interest in Japanese encephalitis.

Valneva financially supported the Society’s work with an unrestricted grant earlier this year – this means they give us money and we choose the areas of our work that we spend it on.

Another way in which we collaborate is by coming together to help people understand not just the likelihood of contracting Japanese encephalitis but also the severity of the condition which in many cases is grave.

To this end, Valneva invited our CEO, Dr Ava Easton to attend a Travel Health and Medicine Conference in Barcelona where they held a symposium around many aspects of Japanese encephalitis.

Ava presented a brief outline of the condition, and illustrated in detail the outcomes for travellers who contract the condition by sharing the stories of three returned UK travellers who contracted the condition whilst working or holidaying in Asia.

This insightful and very personal perspective was well received by the audience, and we have received a great deal of feedback, as evidenced by this delegate comment: “Your contribution to the symposium was outstanding and transformed the debate.” (Consultant in Infectious Disease).

Dr Christian Taucher, Head of Global Medical Affairs at Valneva described the Society’s contribution as “…breathtaking…” and felt it contributed greatly to Japanese Encephalitis awareness and to what was possibly their “best symposium ever.”

Of course, we are always thrilled when our work and expert delivery results in such high praise; however, we cannot stress enough that we are unable to achieve this without the heart-felt stories of survivors and their families.

Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the three survivors/families who so willingly shared their stories with Ava in the hopes they might help prevent other cases.

Whilst in Barcelona, Ava also took the opportunity to visit another one of our friends, neurologist and survivor of NMDA-receptor encephalitis, Dr Domingo Escudero. 

Domingo works in the laboratories of Dr Josep Dalmau and Dr Francesc Graus, where they are studying a range of autoimmune encephalitides. Ava was graciously welcomed by them and treated to a tour of their hospital and laboratories whilst listening eagerly to an update on their work and progress in identifying cases, and developing work around understanding outcomes for patients.

If you want to know more about the travels and work of Ava you can follow her lively twitter or instagram posts @encephalitisava

Pictured (Top) Members of the Valneva team, Aude Chardon, Dr Christian Taucher and Tiphaine Meric, with Dr Ava Easton (above) Ava with Dr Francesc Graus