What are encephalitis and meningitis?
Learn about the conditions and their symptoms.
Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), the spinal cord (myelitis) or of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) can be caused by a wide variety of infections, autoimmune diseases and other causes.
Encephalitis can result in a wide range of symptoms including confusion, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, seizures, psychosis, difficulty speaking and difficulty moving. When the spinal cord is involved as well (myelitis) symptoms may include arm or leg weakness, numbness and bladder or bowel symptoms.
Meningitis symptoms can include headache, fever, vomiting, neck stiffness, light and sound sensitivity and confusion.
Treatment of a particular patient’s condition hinges on understanding what the most likely underlying cause is since an infectious cause will be treated very differently than syndromes caused by an overactive immune system.
How We Can Help
What if I have encephalitis, meningitis or myelitis?
Discuss the symptoms you’re experiencing with a health care provider. They may refer you to be seen at one of our clinics — visit For Providers page.
The Center for Next-Gen Precision Diagnostics and the UCSF Clinical Microbiology Laboratory offer a state-of-the-art spinal fluid test, called “metagenomic next generation sequencing” (mNGS) for pathogen detection. This test can identify a huge range of infectious causes of meningitis or encephalitis, including fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Please consult with your healthcare provider about whether this type of test is appropriate for you or your loved one.