Differences between Meningitis and Encephalitis


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What is meningitis?

Meningitis refers to inflammation of the meninges. Meninges refer to the three membranes covering the brain and spinal chord. When fluid around the meninges becomes contaminated, meningitis may occur.

Meningitis is most commonly caused by viral and bacterial infections. Others possible causes include:

  • Cancer
  • Chemical irritation
  • fungi
  • Drug allergies

Contagious meningitis can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. These can be spread by close contact, coughing, or sneezing.

What is encephalitis?

Encephalitis refers to an acute inflammation of the brain that causes swelling. It can be caused by a viral infection, or by the body’s mistakenly attacking brain tissue.


Acute in medicine means that it occurs suddenly and rapidly. It usually requires immediate care.

A viral infection is the most common cause. As the body tries to fight the virus, the brain becomes inflamed.


1 in 1,000 cases of measles is susceptible to encephalitis.

Typically, the symptoms of encephalitis begin with a fever and headache. The symptoms quickly worsen and may include seizures (fits), confusion and drowsiness.


Although it can be fatal, the chances of getting this disease are very low. Mortality is affected by many factors, including age and severity.

Patients who are younger tend to heal faster than patients who are older. However, patients with more advanced health problems are more at risk of complications and death.


Primary encephalitis is a direct viral infection of the spinal cord or brain. Secondary encephalitis is an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the brain.

Differences between Meningitis and Encephalitis – Meningitis vs Encephalitis

DefinitionInflammation of thin membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. (Mostly of the pia and arachnoid maers).Inflammation in the brain parenchyma.
Causative AgentBacteria Viruses, and FungiMost Viral
Participating microorganismsEchovirus, Poliovirus and Coxsackie are the most prevalent.Bacterial meningitis is caused by Streptococcus and Neisseria.Viruses include rabies virus and herpes virus. );Bacteria – frequently caused by pneumococci or meningococci.Hemophilus, tuberculous bacteria, etc.)Parasites and fungi such as leptospirosis or toxoplasmosis (trichinellosis), etc.
Other causeso Response to a Brain Tumoro After chemotherapy, a reactiono Lead poisoning;o Response to complex studies using a contrast mediumo Parasites, fungal infections.o Complicated brain tumorso Sarcoidosis;o Leukemiao Multiple Sclerosiso Lead poisoning;o The reaction to various substances added to the liquoro Cerebrovascular accidents, etc.
Incubation periodMeningitis symptoms can develop in as little as a few hours or a few days.The average incubation time is between 3-5 days.
SignsMost common is headaches, which can include nausea, vomiting, nausea, skin rash, discoloration, high fever, stiff neck and confusion.Headache, joint pain, irritability, fever, lethargy, seizures, behavioral changes.
Complications– Temporary or permanent hearing or vision losso Permanent brain damage that affects cognitive abilities and movement abilities.Hydrocephaluso Encephalitis.o Memory problemso Personality and behavioral changeo Speech problemso Epilepsyo Motor and physical difficultiesLow moodFatigue
RashPossible skin discoloration and rash.Absent
Alternate Mental StatusThere are no AMS or focal deficitsAlternate Mental Status
FormulasMeningitis is only one type.Primary and secondary EncephalitisPrimary: The brain and spinal cord are directly affected.o Secondary: The infection in the brain occurs after another organ has been affected.
TypesTuberculous meningitisAseptic meningitiso Syphilitic aseptic meningitiso Cryptococcal meningitisStaphylococcal meningitiso Gram negative meningitisPneumococcal meningitiso H.influenza meningitis Meningococcal meningitis.o Polyoencephalitis, which is found in the gray matter/spinal cord of the brain/spinal chord.o Leucoencephalitis, a condition that is found in the cerebral white matter of the brain;Panencephalomyelitis is a condition that occurs in the gray and/or white matter of the brain/spinal chord.Perivenous Encephalomyelitis.
Modes of Transmission(Transmission potential depends on the causative agent used)The discharges from the mouth and nose are contaminated with bacteria and can transmit disease through droplets.o Inhaling respiratory droplets from infected personsContact Skino Tick, mosquito, or other insect bitesHorses – A Tick of Horseso Migratory Birdso Food and drinks contaminated
Risk group ageHighest risk are those over 60 and under 5 years old.This condition is more common in infants under 1 year old and older patients over 65 years of age. However, it can also occur in intermediate age groups.
DiagnosisExamine your bodyCBC with differential, C–reactive protein and blood for Gram staining and culture are next.Clinical presentation supported by spinal fluid analysis, neuroimaging abnormalities, CSF and PCR.
CSF findingsA abnormal cerebrospinal fluid is found (CSF).Variable results from CSF are possible.
TreatmentAmpicillin is often prescribed with an aminoglycoside (cefotaxime), or a cephalosporin.Acyclovir is an intravenously administered drug that is typically given in hospitals for at least ten consecutive days.
VaccinesThere are a variety of vaccines available to treat the following causes of meningitis.o Streptococcus pneumoniae;o Neisseria meningitides;o Mycobacterium tuberculosis.There are vaccines available against certain types of Encephalitis.Vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis;Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

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