LANDMARKS across the world will turn red this week when a Ryedale charity holds its fourth annual global awareness day.

The Encephalitis Society, which is based on Castlegate, Malton, has called on famous buildings, bridges and monuments to show their support for World Encephalitis Day by “shining a light” on the devastating condition, an inflammation of the brain, today (Wednesday).

Niagara Falls, Blackpool Tower, the fountains at Trafalgar Square in London, the Swan Bell Tower in Perth, Australia, the Convention Centre in Dublin and the Peace Bridge, which runs between Canada and the USA, are among the landmarks which are already on board with the charity’s #RED4WED campaign.

Supporters of The Encephalitis Society are also adding their voices to the day by lighting up their own homes or places of work and holding fundraising events, as well as wearing items or red clothing and sharing them on social media using the hashtag, #RED4WED.

Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of The Encephalitis Society, said: “World Encephalitis Day is the most important day of the year for people who have been affected by encephalitis.

“It is the time when we band together and shout from the rooftops about the condition to educate the general public and health professionals across the globe.

“People are still surprised when I tell them that encephalitis affects more people than Motor Neurone Disease and certain types of meningitis in the UK – and yet it is true.

“We still have a long way to go to ensure that encephalitis has that same name recognition,

but events such as World Encephalitis Day, which has reached more than 20 million people in the past three years, certainly goes towards achieving that.”

About 500,000 people are affected by encephalitis globally each year, regardless of their age, gender, ethnic origin or culture.

Those that survive can face an uncertain future as the condition can leave them with an acquired brain injury, meaning a return to work or education can be difficult.

Abilities such as memory, concentration, attention, thinking, memory, judgement and inhibition can be affected, while there can be additional challenges such as epilepsy or fatigue.

Dr Easton said: “Imagine waking up one day a completely different person - this is essentially what it can be like

for some survivors of encephalitis.

“The acquired brain injury brought about by encephalitis is very much a ‘hidden disability.’ A person you know may look exactly the same, but inside it can be a different matter.

“And it is not just the survivor who is affected, encephalitis and its consequences also has an impact on their families, friends, work colleagues or even school friends.

“Encephalitis has a widespread and long-lasting impact which is why our aim is to make as many people as possible aware of the condition and the devastation it can leave in its wake.”

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