A global survey commissioned by Encephalitis International has revealed that emergency medical professionals lack confidence in recognising encephalitis – risking delays in recognition, diagnosis and treatment.

The findings have been the focus of our media campaign this World Encephalitis Day (Thursday, 22nd February 2024).

Please continue reading to find out more about the survey and what it means moving forward.


What did the survey find?

In November 2023, we asked 614 (1) emergency medical professionals (2) in India, the Philippines, USA, UK, Germany and Australia, several questions related to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

  • 53 per cent of doctors and nurses did not consider infectious encephalitis and 78 per cent did not consider autoimmune encephalitis as a diagnosis when presented with a list of accepted symptoms for each. (4,5)
  • Only 33 per cent of emergency medical professionals surveyed strongly agreed that their training had given them the confidence to recognise encephalitis.
  • Almost all respondents (85 per cent) somewhat or strongly agreed that they would benefit from more training on encephalitis.
  • 60 per cent of medical professionals surveyed did not rank death as a possible patient outcome of delayed recognition and treatment, despite encephalitis leading to death in up to 40 per cent of cases.


Survey results

An interactive round-up of our survey to emergency medical professionals.

What does this mean?

The findings show there is urgent need for emergency medical training globally, says Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of Encephalitis International.

“The latest survey results are extremely concerning as quick diagnosis on presentation to the accident and emergency department is imperative in initiating treatment and minimising the many devastating consequences, including death, and the often-permanent brain injuries that affect survivors of encephalitis.

“We’re calling for immediate awareness and recognition of the symptoms of encephalitis among both the public and in healthcare settings, as well as more adequate training for health and medical professionals especially in the current climate.”


What happens next?

Dr Easton added: “An overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals seem to lack knowledge in recognising encephalitis, prompting a need for more education.

“In the wake of these alarming survey findings, much more must be done to bridge the gap in encephalitis awareness and expertise.

“Encephalitis International is determined to increase this awareness among medical professionals through the development of globally accessible training programmes which will provide the tools for them to better recognise and treat encephalitis.

“Of course, we cannot do this alone and will continue to work alongside international entities, such as the World Health Organization, to elevate encephalitis as a global health priority.”


To help us realise this vision, we launched our biggest appeal to date – Don’t Delay. Give Today – in January.

This World Encephalitis Day appeal is seeking to raise £40,000 which will be used to provide training opportunities for medical professionals around the world on the early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of encephalitis.

We are also inviting medical professionals to get more information on training opportunities by signing up to our free professional membership. 

Further information 

If you would like further information or to speak to a member of the team, please get in touch. 


  1. The research was conducted by Censuswide with 614 emergency medical professionals in UK, USA, Australia, Germany, India, and Philippines between 03.11.23 to 17.11.23. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.
  2. Respondents worked in healthcare as either a doctor or nurse in accident & emergency or an emergency room.
  3. Inverse figures of respondents who would most likely consider infectious encephalitis (47%) / autoimmune encephalitis (22%). 40% of respondents said death as an impact of delayed recognition and empirical treatment of encephalitis.
  4. Granerod J. Ambrose HE. Davies NW, et al. Causes of encephalitis and differences in their clinical presentations in England: a multicentre, population-based prospective study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2010;10:835–44.
  5. Graus F, Titulaer MJ, Balu R, Benseler S, Bien CG, Cellucci T, et al. A clinical approach to diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15:391–404.


Page Created: 20 February 2024
Last Modified: 10 April 2024
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