Encephalitis Information Week

Day Three: Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

The first annual Encephalitis Information Week (October 18 to 25) is aimed at healthcare professionals and the general public and helping them to discover more about encephalitis, the latest in research, as well as our resources which may be useful for managing encephalitis and recovery and rehabilitation.

Today we look at how encephalitis is diagnosed.

How is encephalitis diagnosed?

Symptoms alone often do not allow sufficient ability to distinguish between the many diseases that can mimic encephalitis. Therefore, doctors perform a variety of hospital tests such as spinal tap (lumbar puncture), brain scans (computerised tomography - CT or magnetic resonance imaging - MRI), electroencephalogram (EEG) and various blood tests. Sometimes, some of the tests cannot be taken immediately because of the patient’s medical state (e.g. patient is agitated). Nevertheless, it is important that investigations are carried out as soon as possible as prompt diagnosis reduces mortality and improves the outcomes.


  • Neuroimaging is imaging of the brain, including CT, MRI and EEG scans.

Being in Hospital

At the bedside

  • Being in hospital can be a very traumatic experience for all involved. This factsheet lets you know what you can expect.

Discharge from hospital

  • Planning for discharge should start from the moment a patient is admitted to hospital. 

Legal Advice 

Encephalitis is a condition which is considered a medical emergency, and needs to be diagnosed and treated urgently by healthcare professionals. If the condition is left untreated or misdiagnosed, it can lead to a patient receiving inappropriate medical care, the long-term complications of which can be severe. For example, an acquired brain injury, the degree and severity of which will vary according to the treatment received. Learning of an encephalitis diagnosis can be incredibly daunting, with many families facing new challenges at what is a very emotional time. The acquired brain injury is also often a hidden disability which requires specialist clinical, therapeutic, rehabilitative interventions and support to assist your loved one and you to adjust to a life following illness.

Our legal partners - Clarke Willmott, Leigh Day and Moore Barlow - often see cases where failure to diagnose, or where the condition hasn’t been cared for appropriately, has led to complications and sometimes deaths that could have been avoided.

In this special edition of the Encephalitis Podcast, Dr Ava Easton talks to James Pratt about falling ill with encephalitis and the clinical negligence case that he pursued.

This episode is available on Apple, Google Play, Spotify, Podbean and You Tube.

Ask a Legal Question

  • If you have a question which needs legal help, visit our website.

Neuro-Legal Handbook

  • Download a copy of our Neuro-Legal Handbook of request a hard copy from our support team.

Information for Health Professionals

Management of viral encephalitis guidelines

  • Our guidelines covering the initial management of all patients with suspected encephalitis, up to the point of diagnosis, in an acute care setting such as acute medical unit or emergency department.

Autoimmune encephalitis: clinical spectrum and management

  • An open access research paper from the Oxford Autoimmune Neurology Group focusing on practical aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune encephalitis, including clinical experiences of managing such cases. Published October, 2021.

Research Summary

  • Our annual Research Summary presents a summary of research papers published in a year 

A Day in the Life

Hannah, a volunteer with the Encephalitis Society, talks about a typical day in her life post-encephalitis.

If you have found this information helpful, please consider making a donation to help us continue our life-saving work in the future.

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