On February 22nd, 2021, the Main Building of Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo (FMUSP) was illuminated, in red, in honor of World Encephalities Day. A growing movement that already takes place in more than 25 countries, started in the United Kingdom in 2014, and brings together forces and researches from several areas to change the reality of those who suffer from this viral syndrome.
The movement is organized by Encephalitis Society, aiming to inform and raise awareness about this disease that causes brain inflammation, besides being the same institution that recently granted aid for the development of the project: "Clinical and Laboratory Characteristics of encephalitis associated with Chikungunya virus". A study under the responsibility of Dr. Aline de Moura Brasil Matos and Dr. Camila Malta Romano, researchers of the FMUSP and Instituto de Medicina Tropical of USP, in collaboration with Fernanda Martins Maia, of Universidade de Fortaleza, and Augusto Cesar Penalva de Oliveira, of Instituto de Infectologia Emílio Ribas.
"The encephalitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi or by autoantibody attacks. Its sequelae are often severe: cognitive decline, motor, visual, auditory and sensory deficits. However, it is estimated that about 78% of people in the world do not know what encephalitis is, and helth professionals often take days to identify the desease", says Dr. Camila Malta Romano.
The research aims to evaluate clinical and demographic data of patients affected by encephalitis associated with Chikungunya virus, between 2015 and 2019, in the city of Fortaleza, Ceará, amid a triple outbreak of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. In addition to the increased incidence of fever and joint pain cases, which were also notable in the increase of encephalitis cases, similar to what happened in La Reunion Island between 2005 and 2009. And, in addition, the neuronal damage caused will be evalueted, measuring the light chain neurofilament biomarker and comparing its titles to the clinical outcomes of each patient.
Dr. Aline de Moura Brasil Matos states that "up to 60% of encephalitis cases are of unknown cause. Chikungunya, for example, was an etiology that was not known until recently. The investigation of encephalitis, early diagnosis, and research in the area are fundamental to reduce the high morbidity and mortality associated with all types of encephalitis.