Meningitis and encephalitis are inflammatory diseases of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and are caused by bacterial or viral infections. Viral meningitis is sometimes called aseptic meningitis to indicate it is not the result of bacterial infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of encephalitis include sudden fever, headache, vomiting, heightened sensitivity to light, stiff neck and back, confusion and impaired judgment, drowsiness, weak muscles, a clumsy and unsteady gait, and irritability. Symptoms that might require emergency treatment include loss of consciousness, seizures, muscle weakness, or sudden severe dementia.
Symptoms of meningitis, which may appear suddenly, often include high fever, severe and persistent headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. Changes in behavior such as confusion, sleepiness, and difficulty waking up may also occur. In infants, symptoms of meningitis may include irritability or fatigue, lack of appetite, and fever. Viral meningitis usually resolves in 10 days or less, but other types of meningitis can be deadly if not treated promptly. Anyone experiencing symptoms of meningitis or encephalitis should see a doctor immediately.
|Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc.
P.O. Box 1818
El Mirage, AZ 85335
|National Meningitis Association
P.O. Box 725165
Atlanta, GA 31139
Tel: 866-FONE-NMA (366-3662)
|National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
Bethesda, MD 20892-6612
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
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Last updated February 16, 2011