The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65 after a battle with encephalitis.

MacGowan had been in intensive care for several months after first being diagnosed with viral encephalitis last year, which is said to have been exacerbated by shingles that spread to his eye.

Shane MacGowan's wife Victoria Mary Clarke took to Instagram to announce the sad news on Wednesday (November 30).

She said: "I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it. Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love (love heart emoji) of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.

"I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love (love heart emoji) and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures.

"There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world.

"Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music.

"You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much (multiple love heart emojis) You meant the world to me."

What is encephalitis?

Encephalitis is an uncommon but serious condition in which the brain becomes inflamed, according to the NHS.

News Shopper: Encephalitis is an uncommon but serious condition and can be life-threatening.Encephalitis is an uncommon but serious condition and can be life-threatening. (Image: Getty Images)

It added: "It can be life threatening and requires urgent treatment in hospital.

"Anyone can be affected, but the very young and very old are most at risk."

What are the symptoms of encephalitis?

The first signs of encephalitis are flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and headache.

More serious symptoms come on over hours, days or weeks, says the NHS. 

These symptoms include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Seizures or fits
  • Changes in personality and behaviour
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Weakness or loss of movement in some parts of the body
  • Loss of consciousness

The NHS added: "Dial 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else has these serious symptoms."

What is the cause of encephalitis?

These are the causes of encephalitis according to the NHS:

  • Viral infections (very rarely) – may be caused by the common viruses that cause cold sores (herpes simplex) or chickenpox (herpes varicella) spreading to the brain
  • A problem with the immune system – sometimes something goes wrong with the immune system and it mistakenly attacks the brain, causing it to become inflamed
  • Bacterial or fungal infections (extremely rare)
  • Some types of encephalitis are spread by mosquitoes, ticks and mammals.

You cannot catch encephalitis from someone else.

News Shopper: There are a number of causes of encephalitis.There are a number of causes of encephalitis. (Image: Getty Images)

Treatments for encephalitis

There are various treatments available depending on the cause including antiviral medicines, steroid injections, antibiotics, painkillers and support with breathing - such as oxygen through a ventilator. 

The NHS added: "Encephalitis needs to be treated in a hospital. The earlier treatment is started, the more successful it's likely to be."

Some people make a full recovery from encephalitis, although this can be a "long and frustrating process" according to the NHS.

It added: "Many people never make a full recovery and are left with long-term problems caused by damage to their brain."

Some of the common complications from encephalitis include:

  • Memory loss (amnesia)
  • Frequent seizures or fits
  • Personality and behavioural changes
  • Problems with attention, concentration, planning and problem-solving
  • Persistent tiredness

For more information on this or any other condition visit the NHS website.