Difference Between Meningitis and Encephalitis

Meningitis and encephalitis may be the most terrifying diseases in medicine. Bacterial meningitis and viral encephalitis may be rapidly fatal, even in healthy persons. Survivors may suffer lasting neurological sequelae, including memory loss and seizures. Viral meningitis, by contrast, gives patients a bad headache and a stiff neck, but uneventful recovery is the rule.

Some of the differences between Meningitis and Encephalitis are as follows:





1 Definition Meningitis is an inflammation of the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (the meninges). Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain (Brain Parenchyma).
2 Causative Agent Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi Mostly Viruses
3 Common Causes Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitides are the most common causes of meningitis in adults. Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and Japanese Encephalitis are the most important causes of encephalitis in adults.
4 Forms Meningitis  can be only one form. Encephalitis can be divided into two forms, primary and secondary encephalitis. Primary encephalitis occurs when a virus directly invades the brain and spinal cord. Secondary, or post-infectious encephalitis occurs when a virus first infects another organ and secondarily enters the brain.
5 Symptoms Headache, fever, confusion, drowsiness, and fatigue.  Also seizures or convulsions, tremors, hallucinations, and memory problems. Headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light (photophobia) or loud noises (phonophobia).
6 Diagnosis Physical examination,

followed by CBC with differential, C-reactive protein, and blood for

Gram stain and culture.

Clinical presentation and supported by spinal fluid analysis and neuroimaging  abnormalities,  CSF PCR.
7 Rash Skin discoloration or rash  may be present Absent
8 Altered Mental Status No focal deficits or AMS Altered Mental Status
9 Treatment Ampicillin is usually prescribed along with an aminoglycoside or a cephalosporin (cefotaxime) medication. Acyclovir, and is usually administered intravenously in the hospital for at least ten days.

6 thoughts on “Difference Between Meningitis and Encephalitis”

  1. I think the symptoms section is wrong, that’s the other way around. Headache neck stiffness phono/photphobia & vomiting occur more frequently in meningitidis. Good article tough

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