Meningitis and encephalitis are two distinct conditions that affect the Central Nervous System (CNS). Meningitis causes inflammation in the outer covering of the brain & spinal cord called the meninges, while encephalitis causes inflammation of the brain tissue.
Meningitis cannot cause encephalitis, and encephalitis cannot cause meningitis. However, it is possible to have both conditions at the same time. When this happens, a person has meningoencephalitis, which means inflammation is present in both the meninges and the brain.
Both conditions can be caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Symptoms for both are similar: headache, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness, and fever.
Receiving treatment quickly is especially important. Lifelong disabilities can occur due to the damage done in areas of the brain and spinal cord.
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